NPPC/NPR2 signaling is essential for oocyte meiotic arrest and cumulus oophorus formation during follicular development in the mouse ovary

Chiyo Kiyosu, Takehito Tsuji, Kaoru Yamada, Shimpei Kajita, Tetsuo Kunieda
Reproduction 2012, 144 (2): 187-93
Natriuretic peptide type C (NPPC) and its high affinity receptor, natriuretic peptide receptor 2 (NPR2), have been assumed to be involved in female reproduction and have recently been shown to play an essential role in maintaining meiotic arrest of oocytes. However, the overall role of NPPC/NPR2 signaling in female reproduction and ovarian function is still less clear. Here we report the defects observed in oocytes and follicles of mice homozygous for Nppc(lbab) or Npr2(cn), mutant alleles of Nppc or Npr2 respectively to clarify the exact consequences of lack of NPPC/NPR2 signaling in female reproductive systems. We found that: i) Npr2(cn)/Npr2(cn) female mice ovulated a comparable number of oocytes as normal mice but never produced a litter; ii) all ovulated oocytes of Npr2(cn)/Npr2(cn) and Nppc(lbab)/Nppc(lbab) mice exhibited abnormalities, such as fragmented or degenerated ooplasm and never developed to the two-cell stage after fertilization; iii) histological examination of the ovaries of Npr2(cn)/Npr2(cn) and Nppc(lbab)/Nppc(lbab) mice showed that oocytes in antral follicles prematurely resumed meiosis and that immediately before ovulation, oocytes showed disorganized chromosomes or fragmented ooplasm; and iv) ovulated oocytes and oocytes in the periovulatory follicles of the mutant mice were devoid of cumulus cells. These findings demonstrate that NPPC/NPR2 signaling is essential for oocyte meiotic arrest and cumulus oophorus formation, which affects female fertility through the production of oocytes with developmental capacity.

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