Aberrant and constitutive expression of FOXL2 impairs ovarian development and functions in mice

Biol Reprod. 2020 Oct 29;103(5):966-977. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioaa146.


Development and functions of the ovary rely on appropriate signaling and communication between various ovarian cell types. FOXL2, a transcription factor that plays a key role at different stages of ovarian development, is associated with primary ovarian insufficiency and ovarian cancer as a result of its loss-of-function or mutations. In this study, we investigated the impact of aberrant, constitutive expression of FOXL2 in somatic cells of the ovary. Overexpression of FOXL2 that started during fetal life resulted in defects in nest breakdown and consequent formation of polyovular follicles. Granulosa cell differentiation was impaired and recruitment and differentiation of steroidogenic theca cells was compromised. As a consequence, adult ovaries overexpressing FOXL2 exhibited defects in compartmentalization of granulosa and theca cells, significant decreased steroidogenesis and lack of ovulation. These findings demonstrate that fine-tuned expression of FOXL2 is required for proper folliculogenesis and fertility.

Keywords: FOXL2; fertility; folliculogenesis; granulosa; ovary; theca.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein L2 / genetics
  • Forkhead Box Protein L2 / metabolism*
  • Granulosa Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Follicle / metabolism*
  • Ovary / growth & development
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Theca Cells / metabolism


  • Forkhead Box Protein L2