Gene Bionetwork Analysis of Ovarian Primordial Follicle Development

PLoS One. 2010 Jul 16;5(7):e11637. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011637.


Ovarian primordial follicles are critical for female reproduction and comprise a finite pool of gametes arrested in development. A systems biology approach was used to identify regulatory gene networks essential for primordial follicle development. Transcriptional responses to eight different growth factors known to influence primordial follicles were used to construct a bionetwork of regulatory genes involved in rat primordial follicle development. Over 1,500 genes were found to be regulated by the various growth factors and a network analysis identified critical gene modules involved in a number of signaling pathways and cellular processes. A set of 55 genes was identified as potential critical regulators of these gene modules, and a sub-network associated with development was determined. Within the network two previously identified regulatory genes were confirmed (i.e., Pdgfa and Fgfr2) and a new factor was identified, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). CTGF was tested in ovarian organ cultures and found to stimulate primordial follicle development. Therefore, the relevant gene network associated with primordial follicle development was validated and the critical genes and pathways involved in this process were identified. This is one of the first applications of network analysis to a normal developmental process. These observations provide insights into potential therapeutic targets for preventing ovarian disease and promoting female reproduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / physiology
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Ovarian Follicle / embryology
  • Ovarian Follicle / growth & development*
  • Ovarian Follicle / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley