Single-Cell Transcriptomics of Human Oocytes: Environment-Driven Metabolic Competition and Compensatory Mechanisms During Oocyte Maturation

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2019 Feb 1;30(4):542-559. doi: 10.1089/ars.2017.7151. Epub 2018 Apr 13.


Aims: The mechanisms coordinating maturation with an environment-driven metabolic shift, a critical step in determining the developmental potential of human in vitro maturation (IVM) oocytes, remain to be elucidated. Here we explored the key genes regulating human oocyte maturation using single-cell RNA sequencing and illuminated the compensatory mechanism from a metabolic perspective by analyzing gene expression.

Results: Three key genes that encode CoA-related enzymes were screened from the RNA sequencing data. Two of them, ACAT1 and HADHA, were closely related to the regulation of substrate production in the Krebs cycle. Dysfunction of the Krebs cycle was induced by decreases in the activity of specific enzymes. Furthermore, the activator of these enzymes, the calcium concentration, was also decreased because of the failure of influx of exogenous calcium. Although release of endogenous calcium from the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria met the requirement for maturation, excessive release resulted in aneuploidy and developmental incompetence. High nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase expression induced NADPH dehydrogenation to compensate for the NADH shortage resulting from the dysfunction of the Krebs cycle. Importantly, high NADP+ levels activated DPYD to enhance the repair of DNA double-strand breaks to maintain euploidy.

Innovation: The present study shows for the first time that exposure to the in vitro environment can lead to the decline of energy metabolism in human oocytes during maturation but that a compensatory action maintains their developmental competence.

Conclusion: In vitro maturation of human oocytes is mediated through a cascade of competing and compensatory actions driven by genes encoding enzymes.

Keywords: NADPH/NADH; human oocytes; maturation; transcriptome sequencing; tricarboxylic acid cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Oocytes / cytology*
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Single-Cell Analysis*
  • Transcriptome*