Maternal age effect on mouse oocytes: new biological insight from proteomic analysis

Reproduction. 2014 Jul;148(1):55-72. doi: 10.1530/REP-14-0126. Epub 2014 Mar 31.


The long-standing view of 'immortal germline vs mortal soma' poses a fundamental question in biology concerning how oocytes age in molecular terms. A mainstream hypothesis is that maternal ageing of oocytes has its roots in gene transcription. Investigating the proteins resulting from mRNA translation would reveal how far the levels of functionally available proteins correlate with mRNAs and would offer novel insights into the changes oocytes undergo during maternal ageing. Gene ontology (GO) semantic analysis revealed a high similarity of the detected proteome (2324 proteins) to the transcriptome (22 334 mRNAs), although not all proteins had a cognate mRNA. Concerning their dynamics, fourfold changes of abundance were more frequent in the proteome (3%) than the transcriptome (0.05%), with no correlation. Whereas proteins associated with the nucleus (e.g. structural maintenance of chromosomes and spindle-assembly checkpoints) were largely represented among those that change in oocytes during maternal ageing; proteins associated with oxidative stress/damage (e.g. superoxide dismutase) were infrequent. These quantitative alterations are either impoverishing or enriching. Using GO analysis, these alterations do not relate in any simple way to the classic signature of ageing known from somatic tissues. Given the lack of correlation, we conclude that proteome analysis of mouse oocytes may not be surrogated with transcriptome analysis. Furthermore, we conclude that the classic features of ageing may not be transposed from somatic tissues to oocytes in a one-to-one fashion. Overall, there is more to the maternal ageing of oocytes than mere cellular deterioration exemplified by the notorious increase of meiotic aneuploidy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Maternal Age*
  • Mice
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteomics* / methods
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger