The biochemistry of fertility: A healthy egg, far left, is surrounded by normal, nurturing granulosa cells. Near left, an ovarian follicle lacking the TAF4b protein results in a misshapen egg and withered granulosa cells whose bonds are broken. Image: Richard Freiman, Brown University
Biologists at Brown University and the University of California–Berkeley have discovered that two proteins team up to turn on an assortment of ovarian genes critical to the production of healthy eggs. This finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds important light on the biochemical processes underpinning fertility.
Human eggs rely on handmaidens. Called granulosa cells, they surround eggs and deliver nutrients and hormones. Without granulosa cells, eggs cannot mature and be successfully fertilized.
How do these handmaidens grow? Biologists at Brown University and the University of California–Berkeley have discovered that two proteins – TAF4b and c-Jun – team up to turn on about two dozen genes inside the nuclei of granulosa cells. This subset of genes, in turn, writes the genetic code for proteins that cause granulosa cells to multiply and nurture developing eggs.
Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
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