Bcl-x and Bax Regulate Mouse Primordial Germ Cell Survival and Apoptosis during Embryogenesis

University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Molecular Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.02). 08/2000; 14(7):1038-52. DOI: 10.1210/me.14.7.1038
Source: PubMed


Restricted germ cell loss through apoptosis is initiated in the fetal gonad around embryonic day 13.5 (E13.5) as part of normal germ cell development. The mechanism of this germ cell attrition is unknown. We show that Bcl-x plays a crucial role in maintaining the survival of mouse germ cells during gonadogenesis. A bcl-x hypomorphic mouse was generated through the introduction of a neomycin (neo) gene into the promoter of the bcl-x gene by homologous recombination. Mice that contained two copies of the hypomorphic allele had severe reproductive defects attributed to compromised germ cell development. Males with two mutant alleles lacked spermatogonia and were sterile; females showed a severely reduced population of primordial and primary follicles and exhibited greatly impaired fertility. Primordial germ cells (PGCs) in bcl-x hypomorph mice migrated to the genital ridge by E12.5 but were depleted by E15.5, a time when Bcl-x and Bax were present. Two additional bcl-x transcripts were identified in fetal germ cells more than 300 bp upstream of previously reported start sites. Insertion of a neo cassette led to a down-regulation of the bcl-x gene at E12.5 in the hypomorph. Bax was detected by immunohistochemistry in germ cells from bcl-x hypomorph and control testes at E12.5 and E13.5. Bcl-x function was restored, and animals of both genders were fertile after removal of the neo selection cassette using Cre-mediated recombination. Alternatively, the loss of Bcl-x function in the hypomorph was corrected by the deletion of both copies of the bax gene, resulting in a restoration of germ cell survival. These findings demonstrate that the balance of Bcl-x and Bax control PGC survival and apoptosis.

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    • "The ratio of pro-apoptotic factor bcl-2 associated X protein (BAX) and anti-apoptotic factor B cell lymphoma/leukemia- 2 (Bcl-2) serves as a good marker for ovarian follicle apoptosis (Rucker et al., 2000). Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) regulates primordial follicle assembly in neonatal mouse ovaries by promoting apoptosis of oocytes (Xu et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal malnutrition during pregnancy may give rise to female offspring with disrupted ovary functions in adult age. Neonatal ovary development predisposes adult ovary function, yet the effect of maternal nutrition on the neonatal ovary has not been described. Therefore, here we show the impact of maternal protein restriction on the expression of folliculogenic and steroidogenic genes, their regulatory microRNAs and promoter DNA methylation in the ovary of neonatal piglets. Sows were fed either standard-protein (SP, 15% crude protein) or low-protein (LP, 7.5% crude protein) diets throughout gestation. Female piglets born to LP sows showed significantly decreased ovary weight relative to body weight (p<0.05) at birth, which was accompanied with an increased serum estradiol level (p<0.05). The LP piglets demonstrated higher ratio of bcl-2 associated X protein/B cell lymphoma/leukemia-2 mRNA (p<0.01), which was associated with up-regulated mRNA expression of bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4) (p<0.05) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) (p<0.05). The steroidogenic gene, cytochrome P450 aromatase (CYP19A1) was significantly down-regulated (p<0.05) in LP piglets. The alterations in ovarian gene expression were associated with a significant down-regulation of follicle-stimulating hormone receptor mRNA expression (p<0.05) in LP piglets. Moreover, three microRNAs, including miR-423-5p targeting both CYP19A1 and PCNA, miR-378 targeting CYP19A1 and miR-210 targeting BMP4, were significantly down-regulated (p<0.05) in the ovary of LP piglets. These results suggest that microRNAs are involved in mediating the effect of maternal protein restriction on ovarian function through regulating the expression of folliculogenic and steroidogenic genes in newborn piglets.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Asian Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences
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    • "The findings of the present study are consistent with those of previous gene overexpression and knockout studies in mice demonstrating the importance of the BCL2-regulated apoptosis pathway in the regulation of the death of germ cells and determination of the number of follicles making up the ovarian reserve. For example, a reduction in the function of the anti-apoptotic protein BCL2L1 was found to lead to a reduced number of primordial follicles in neonatal ovaries (Rucker et al. 2000). It was demonstrated that BCL2L1 is particularly important for the survival of germ cells between E12.5 and E15.5. "
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    ABSTRACT: The number of primordial follicles initially established within the ovary is influenced by the extent of germ cell death during foetal ovarian development, but the mechanisms that mediate this death have not been fully uncovered. In this study, we identified BBC3 (PUMA) (p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis, also known as BCL2-binding component 3), a pro-apoptotic BH3-only protein belonging to the BCL2 family, as a critical determinant of the number of germ cells during ovarian development. Targeted disruption of the Bbc3 gene revealed a significant increase in the number of germ cells as early as embryonic day 13.5. The number of germ cells remained elevated in Bbc3−/− female mice compared with WT female mice throughout the remainder of embryonic and early postnatal life, resulting in a 1.9-fold increase in the number of primordial follicles in the ovary on postnatal day 10. The increase in the number of germ cells observed in the ovaries of Bbc3−/− mice could not be attributed to the altered proliferative activity of germ cells within the ovaries. Furthermore, BBC3 was found to be not required for the massive germ cell loss that occurs during germ cell nest breakdown. Our data indicate that BBC3 is a critical regulator of germ cell death that acts during the migratory phase of oogenesis or very soon after the arrival of germ cells in the gonad and that BBC3-mediated cell death limits the number of primordial follicles established in the initial ovarian reserve.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Reproduction (Cambridge, England)
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    • "Mice deficient in Casp2 (encodes caspase 2) form more and Bcl2 or Bcl-x (anti-apoptosis factors) null ovaries form fewer primordial follicles suggesting a role for apoptosis in oocyte loss during embryonic development [6]–[8]. Bax (a pro-apoptotic factor) null mice also exhibit increased number of primordial follicles in newborn ovaries, but this reflects a larger reservoir of oogonia that accumulate during gonadogenesis [9]. "
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    ABSTRACT: FIGLA (Factor in the germline, alpha) is a bHLH transcription factor expressed abundantly in female and less so in male germ cells. Mice lacking FIGLA do not form primordial follicles in the ovary and females are sterile, but there is no obvious phenotype in males. Using the Figla promoter to express Cre recombinase, we have established mEGFP/mTomato reporter mice with green germ cells and red somatic tissue. These mice were crossed into the Figla null background to accelerate perinatal oocyte loss. Live imaging of cultured newborn ovaries provides evidence that few oocytes egress and the vast majority disappear within the confines of the ovary. Although a cohort of mobile, phagocytic cells was observed, macrophage depletion in Csf1(op/op) mice did not affect oocyte loss. Investigations with TUNEL assays and caspase inhibitors suggest that apoptosis plays a role in the perinatal loss of oocyte in female mice. These results establish the utility of Figla-EGFP/Cre; mTomato/mEGFP in investigating germ cell dynamics in prepubertal mice.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2014 · PLoS ONE
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