[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sexual differentiation of the germ cells follows gonadal differentiation, which is determined by the presence or the absence of the Y-chromosome. Consequently, oogenesis and spermatogenesis take place in the germ cells with XX and XY sex chromosomal compositions respectively. It is unclear how sexual dimorphic regulation of meiosis is associated with the sex-chromosomal composition. In the present study, we examined the behavior of the sex chromosomes in the oocytes of the B6.Y(TIR) sex-reversed female mouse, in comparison with XO and XX females. As the sex chromosomes fail to pair in both XY and XO oocytes during meiotic prophase, we anticipated that the pairing failure may lead to excessive oocyte loss. However, the total number of germ cells, identified by immunolabeling of germ cell nuclear antigen 1 (GCNA1), did not differ between XY and XX ovaries or XO and XX ovaries up to the day of delivery. The progression of meiotic prophase, assessed by immunolabeling of synaptonemal complex components, was also similar between the two genotypes of ovaries. These observations suggest that the failure in sex-chromosome pairing is not sufficient to cause oocyte loss. On the other hand, labeling of phosphorylated histone gammaH2AX, known to be associated with asynapsis and transcriptional repression, was seen over the X-chromosome but not over the Y-chromosome in the majority of XY oocytes at the pachytene stage. For comparison, gammaH2AX labeling was seen only in the minority of XX oocytes at the same stage. We speculate that the transcriptional activity of sex chromosomes in the XY oocyte may be incompatible with ooplasmic maturation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Female reproductive life is limited by the oocyte/follicle pool, which has been determined by the number of germ cells to enter meiosis and subsequent loss of oocytes. It has been suggested that apoptosis accounts for the elimination of germ cells throughout oogenesis. However, female germ cells are lost continuously while they undergo distinct cell cycles in fetal and neonatal life. No convincing evidence has yet been provided to show apoptotic death of oocytes during meiotic prophase in vivo. In this study, we examined the change in the germ cell population in mice deficient of BAX, a key proapoptotic molecule. The number of germ cells, identified by GCNA1 immunolabeling, approximately doubled in ovaries of Bax(-/-) mice compared with ovaries of heterozygous Bax(+/-) mice and wild-type Bax(+/+) mice by 14.5 days post coitum (d.p.c.) and remained higher up to 24.5 d.p.c. However, there was a rapid loss of germ cells in Bax(-/-) ovaries, paralleling that in Bax(+/-) and Bax(+/+) ovaries from 14.5-24.5 d.p.c., a period in which most germ cells entered and progressed in meiotic prophase. These results suggest that, while progressing through meiotic prophase, oocytes are eliminated by a BAX-independent mechanism.