Molecular analysis of the effects of steroid hormones on mouse meiotic prophase i progression

Deion M. Burks, Margaret R. McCoy, Sudipta Dutta, Connie J. Mark-Kappeler, Patricia B. Hoyer, Melissa E. Pepling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Infertility is linked to depletion of the primordial follicle pool consisting of individual oocytes arrested at the diplotene stage of meiotic prophase I surrounded by granulosa cells. Primordial germ cells, the oocyte precursors, begin to differentiate during embryonic development. These cells migrate to the genital ridge and begin mitotic divisions, remaining connected, through incomplete cytokinesis, in clusters of synchronously dividing oogonia known as germ cell cysts. Subsequently, they enter meiosis, become oocytes and progress through prophase I to the diplotene stage. The cysts break apart, allowing individual oocytes to be surrounded by a layer of granulosa cells, forming primordial follicles each containing a diplotene arrested oocyte. A large number of oocytes are lost coincident with cyst breakdown, and may be important for quality control of primordial follicle formation. Exposure of developing ovaries to exogenous hormones can disrupt cyst breakdown and follicle formation, but it is unclear if hormones affect progression of oocytes through prophase I of meiosis. Methods: Fetal ovaries were treated in organ culture with estradiol, progesterone, or both hormones, labeled for MSY2 or Synaptonemal complex protein 3 (SYCP3) using whole mount immunocytochemistry and examined by confocal microscopy. Meiotic prophase I progression was also followed using the meiotic surface spread technique. Results: MSY2 expression in oocytes was reduced by progesterone but not estradiol or the hormone combination. However, while MSY2 expression was upregulated during development it was not a precise marker for the diplotene stage. We also followed meiotic prophase I progression using antibodies against SYCP3 using two different methods, and found that the percent of oocytes at the pachytene stage peaked at postnatal day 1. Finally, estradiol and progesterone treatment together but not either alone in organ culture increased the percent of oocytes at the pachytene stage. Conclusions: We set out to examine the effects of hormones on prophase I progression and found that while MSY2 expression was reduced by progesterone, MSY2 was not a precise diplotene stage marker. Using antibodies against SYCP3 to identify pachytene stage oocytes we found that progesterone and estradiol together delayed progression of oocytes through prophase I.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105
JournalReproductive Biology and Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2 2019


  • Diplotene arrest
  • Fetal oocyte development
  • Meiotic prophase
  • Primordial follicle formation
  • Steroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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