Urinary trypsin inhibitor (UTI) is a serine proteinase inhibitor that is found in blood and urine. To investigate the physiological functions of UTI in vivo, we generated UTI-deficient mice by gene targeting. The mice showed no obvious abnormalities and appeared healthy. However, the females displayed a severe reduction in fertility. Wild-type embryos developed normally when transplanted into UTI-deficient female mice, suggesting that UTI-deficient females have a normal ability to maintain pregnancy. The number of naturally ovulated oocytes from UTI-deficient mice was greatly reduced compared with that from wild-type mice. Histologically, oocytes with disorganized corona radiata were frequently seen in the ovaries of UTI-deficient mice after hormonal stimulation. When ovaries from UTI-deficient mice were transplanted into wild-type mice, pups derived from the transplanted ovaries were obtained, suggesting that the ovary of UTI-deficient mice functions normally if UTI is supplied from the systemic circulation. These results demonstrate that UTI plays an important role in the formation of the stable cumulus-oocyte complex that is essential for oocyte maturation and ovulation.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.