Mouse oocytes within germ cell cysts and primordial follicles contain a Balbiani body

Melissa E. Pepling, James E. Wilhelm, Ashley L. O'Hara, Grant W. Gephardt, Allan C. Spradling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


The Balbiani body or mitochondrial cloud is a large distinctive organelle aggregate found in developing oocytes of many species, but its presence in the mouse has been controversial. Using confocal and electron microscopy, we report that a Balbiani body does arise in mouse neonatal germline cysts and oocytes of primordial follicles but disperses as follicles begin to grow. The mouse Balbiani body contains a core of Golgi elements surrounded by mitochondria and associated endoplasmic reticulum. Because of their stage specificity and perinuclear rather than spherical distribution, these clustered Balbiani body mitochondria may have been missed previously. The Balbiani body also contains Trailer hitch, a widely conserved member of a protein complex that associates with endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi-like vesicles and transports specific RNAs during Drosophila oogenesis. Our results provide evidence that mouse oocytes develop using molecular and developmental mechanisms widely conserved throughout the animal kingdom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-192
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2007


  • Gamete biology
  • Germ plasm
  • Oocyte development
  • Oogenesis
  • Ovary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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