ABSTRACT: It is estimated that infertility affects 15-20% of couples and can arise from female or male reproductive defects. Mouse models have ascribed roles to over 100 genes in the maintenance of female fertility. Although previous models have determined roles for apoptosis in male and female fertility, we find that compromised autophagy within the perinatal ovary, through the loss of Becn1 or Atg7, results in the premature loss of female germ cells. Becn1(+/-) ovaries have a 56% reduction of germ cells compared with control ovaries at post-natal day 1, whereas Atg7(-/-) ovaries lack discernable germ cells at this stage. Thus autophagy appears to be a cell survival mechanism to maintain the endowment of female germ cells prior to establishing primordial follicle pools in the ovary.
Reproduction 04/2011; 141(6):759-65. · 2.58 Impact Factor