An enormous amount of knowledge about the ovary has been generated over the last two decades, due in part to the development of strategies to genetically manipulate the mouse using embryonic stem cell technology. Our group and others have identified multiple factors that are important and essential at all stages of ovarian folliculogenesis from formation of the primordial factor to ovulation. It is obvious that an oocyte, the key cargo of the ovary, and the surrounding granulosa cells, the support cells of the follicle, entertain a dialog that is key for granulosa growth and differentiation and oocyte growth, maturation, and fertilization. In addition to the involvement of genes in these processes, small non-coding RNAs including microRNAs and siRNAs have been implicated as key regulators, especially in the oocyte. These studies have direct implications for human fertility control in the assisted reproductive technology (ART) laboratory.
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