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Open Access Research article

Ovarian gene expression in the absence of FIGLA, an oocyte-specific transcription factor

Saurabh Joshi1*, Holly Davies1, Lauren Porter Sims2, Shawn E Levy2 and Jurrien Dean1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

2 Department of Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA

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BMC Developmental Biology 2007, 7:67  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-7-67

Published: 13 June 2007

Abstract

Background

Ovarian folliculogenesis in mammals is a complex process involving interactions between germ and somatic cells. Carefully orchestrated expression of transcription factors, cell adhesion molecules and growth factors are required for success. We have identified a germ-cell specific, basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, FIGLA (Factor In the GermLine, Alpha) and demonstrated its involvement in two independent developmental processes: formation of the primordial follicle and coordinate expression of zona pellucida genes.

Results

Taking advantage of Figla null mouse lines, we have used a combined approach of microarray and Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) to identify potential downstream target genes. Using high stringent cutoffs, we find that FIGLA functions as a key regulatory molecule in coordinating expression of the NALP family of genes, genes of known oocyte-specific expression and a set of functionally un-annotated genes. FIGLA also inhibits expression of male germ cell specific genes that might otherwise disrupt normal oogenesis.

Conclusion

These data implicate FIGLA as a central regulator of oocyte-specific genes that play roles in folliculogenesis, fertilization and early development.