The activity and copy number of mitochondrial DNA in ovine oocytes throughout oogenesis in vivo and during oocyte maturation in vitro

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Mitochondria are responsible for the production of ATP, which drives cellular metabolic and biosynthetic processes. This is the first study to quantify the mtDNA copy number across all stages of oogenesis in a large monovulatory species, it includes assessment of the activity of mitochondria in germinal vesicle (GV) and metaphase II (MII) oocytes through JC1 staining. Primordial to early antral follicles (n = 249) were isolated from the sheep ovarian cortex following digestion at 37°C for 1 h and all oocytes were disaggregated from their somatic cells. Germinal vesicle oocytes (n = 133) were aspirated from 3- to 5-mm diameter antral follicles, and mature MII oocytes (n = 71) were generated following in vitro maturation (IVM). The mtDNA copy number in each oocyte was quantified using real-time PCR and showed a progressive, but variable increase in the amount of mtDNA in oocytes from primordial follicles (605 ± 205, n = 8) to mature MII oocytes (744 633 ± 115 799, n = 13; P < 0.05). Mitochondrial activity (P > 0.05) was not altered during meiotic progression from GV to MII during IVM. The observed increase in the mtDNA copy number across oogenesis reflects the changing ATP demands needed to orchestrate cytoskeletal and cytoplasmic reorganization during oocyte growth and maturation and the need to fuel the resumption of meiosis in mature oocytes following the pre-ovulatory gonadotrophin surge.

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