Project 1

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1. Molecular mechanisms of the primordial follicle maintenance, sustaining the reproductive life of women.

In ovaries of mammalian such as human and mouse, many oocytes that will grow up to eggs are retained. Oocyte accompanies the two types of somatic cells, the granulosa cell and the theca cell that support oocyte growth in ovary, and one oocyte and supporting cells form the sphere-shaped structure, so called “follicle”. 20,000-40,000 follicles are contained in ovaries of healthy adolescent woman and one of these is ovulated every month, thus eventually 400-500 mature eggs are yielded during a life. The period that a woman cyclically ovulate eggs and are able to get pregnant, is called “reproductive life”; 30-40 years for human and 1 year for mouse.

The primordial follicles that are the most immature follicle are dormant and stored in ovaries during a long reproductive life. When the primordial follicle is received unknown signal, the follicle is activated and undergoes to the maturation process. Managing the correct balance of the dormancy maintenance and the activation is very important for woman to retain the reproductive life about 40 years, but the detail molecular mechanisms is still enigmatic. Our group focus on revealing the mechanisms and also are trying to visualize the oogenesis and folliculogenesis by 3D imaging and live imaging technologies.