Specificity of the requirement for Foxo3 in primordial follicle activation

George B. John, Lane J. Shirley, Teresa D. Gallardo, Diego G. Castrillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Primordial follicles are long-lived structures assembled early in life. The mechanisms that control the balance between the conservation and the activation of primordial follicles are critically important for fertility and dictate the onset of menopause. The forkhead transcription factor Foxo3 serves an essential role in these processes by suppressing the growth of primordial follicles, thereby preserving them until later in life. While other factors regulating primordial follicle growth have been described, most serve multiple functions at several stages of female germ cell or follicle development, and corresponding mouse mutants exhibit pleiotropic phenotypes with disruption of multiple stages of follicle assembly, development, or survival. To investigate the possibility that Foxo3 also functions in other aspects of ovarian development beyond its known role in primordial follicle activation (PFA), we performed detailed analyses of mouse ovaries including electron microscopy to study primordial follicle structure, assembly, and early growth. These analyses revealed that the timing of primordial follicle assembly, early oocyte survival, and the expression of early germ line markers were unaffected in early Foxo3 ovaries. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that the phenotype associated with Foxo3 deficiency is remarkably specific for PFA and further support the placement of Foxo3 in a unique phenotypic class among mammalian female sterile mutants. Lastly, we discuss the implications of the specificity of this mutant phenotype with regard to the hypothesis that oocyte regeneration may occur in adults and serves as a means to replenish oocytes lost via natural physiological processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-863
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Cell Biology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology


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