Purpose: To determine the level of expression for mRNAs that regulate DNA repair activity in oocytes at the germinal vesicle (GV) stage. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been shown to play a major role in the appearance of deleterious DNA decays, and this study focuses on the repair of damage linked to decay caused by the action of ROS. The oocyte needs a mechanism for repairing DNA decays in the early preimplantation embryo before the onset of genomic activation, since in the absence of repair, residual DNA damage would lead to either apoptosis or tolerance. Tolerance of DNA damage is a source of potential mutations.
Method: GV oocytes were selected for this study, both for the ethical reason that they are unsuitable for patient treatment, and because no transcription takes place during the period from GV to MII and then prior to genomic activation. The GV oocyte is therefore a good model for looking at DNA during the first cleavages of early preimplantation development. Six cohorts of GV oocytes were pooled for extraction of mRNA; the DNA was analysed using Affimetrix HG-UG133 Plus 2, containing 54,675 probe sets; spike and housekeeping genes were also added as internal controls.
Results: In GV oocytes, DNA repair pathways for oxidized bases are redundant. One step repair procedure (OSR), BER (base excision repair), MMR (mismatch repair) and NER (Nucleotide excision repair) are present. All the recognition proteins are also present. The chromatin assembly factors necessary for the maintenance of genomic stability are highly expressed.
Conclusion: Gene expression analysis shows that the oocyte does not allow a high level of tolerance for DNA decays. This regulatory mechanism should avoid transmitting mutations into the next generation.