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Since female mammals are born with a limited number of egg cells, most of the egg cells wait in a dormant state before maturing later in life to ensure a long period of fertility. However, how this dormant state is achieved and then maintained is still largely shrouded in mystery.
Researchers at Kyushu University's Department of Stem Cell Biology and Medicine have now uncovered several conditions necessary for creating this supply of dormant egg cells in mice, providing useful insight for the further understanding and development of reproductive biology and medicine.
Work - Papers - Problem - Angles - Creation
The work, which spans two papers, investigates the problem from two different angles: the creation of dormant egg cells from mouse stem cells and the maintenance of the dormant state in ovaries from mice.
While scientists studying mice have been able to create egg cells from stem cells, the egg cells created in the laboratory begin maturing after quickly passing through the dormant state, and the conditions to initially induce a longer-lasting dormant state have been unclear.
Environment - Nature - Lab - Conditions - Lab
"The environment in nature and in the lab is vastly different, so we have been searching for how to recreate the necessary conditions in the lab to obtain the same growth process found in nature," says So Shimamoto, the first author on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper reporting the results.
The researchers compared the various chemicals present at different stages in egg cells from mice to those in egg cells grown in the lab and found signs that the egg cells from mice were exposed to a reduced amount of oxygen while also having an increased level of the protein FOXO3.
Oxygen - Egg - Cells - Lab - Time
By limiting the oxygen reaching the egg cells in the lab while at the same time increasing the amount of FOXO3, the researchers obtained egg cells very similar to those in the dormant...
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