Comparative gene expression profiling of adult mouse ovary derived oogonial stem cells supports a distinct cellular identity

Oogonial stem cells exhibited a gene expression profile partially overlapping with, but distinct from, other stem cells and germ cells, and they showed altered numbers during the reproductive cycle inversely related to meiotic commitment.


Anthony N. Imudia, M.D., Ning Wang, Ph.D., Yoshihiro Tanaka, M.D., Ph.D., Yvonne A. White, Ph.D., Dori C. Woods, Ph.D., Jonathan L. Tilly, Ph.D.

Volume 100, Issue 5, Pages 1451-1458.e2, November 2013



Perform gene expression profiling of adult mouse ovary-derived oogonial stem cells (OSCs).


Experimental animal study.


Research laboratory.


Adult C57BL/6 female mice.



Main Outcome Measure(s):

Gene expression profiles were compared between freshly isolated and cultured OSCs, as well as between OSCs and embryonic stem cells (ESCs), fetal primordial germ cells (PGCs), and spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs); OSC yield from ovaries versus meiotic gene activation during the estrous cycle was determined.


Freshly isolated OSCs, PGCs, and SSCs exhibited distinct gene expression profiles. Cultured OSCs maintained their germline gene expression pattern but gained expression of pluripotency markers found in PGCs and ESCs. Cultured OSCs also expressed the meiotic marker, stimulated by retinoic acid gene 8 (Stra8). In vivo, OSC yield was higher from luteal versus follicular phase ovaries, and this was inversely related to Stra8 expression.


Freshly isolated OSCs exhibit a germline gene expression profile that overlaps with, but is distinct from, that of PGCs and SSCs. After in vitro expansion, OSCs activate expression of pluripotency genes found in freshly isolated PGCs. In vivo, OSC numbers in the ovaries fluctuate during the estrous cycle, with the highest numbers noted during the luteal phase. This is followed by activation of Stra8 expression during the follicular phase, which may signify a wave of neo-oogenesis to partially offset follicular loss through atresia and ovulation in the prior cycle.

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