Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Investigation into why oocytes fail to mature into eggs

Currently Active: 
Project type: 

This project investigates the relationship between the level of DNA damage sustained by an oocyte, and the associated impact on its development.

Oocytes mature to become fully grown eggs that are capable of creating a viable embryo at fertilization. Unfortunately often 30%, or greater, of mammalian oocytes fail to produce fully mature eggs. Instead they arrest at a specific point in their maturation, during a stage of meiosis that is only a couple of hours before ovulation. It has never been investigated as to why oocytes fail to mature and so arrest at this specific meiotic timepoint. This is surprising given such a block is likely to be physiologically relevant in preventing the creation of poor quality eggs. Indeed, some evidence exists that DNA damage may be the reason for a failure of oocytes to fully mature, and that this engages the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint (SAC), to cause arrest during meiosis. The SAC is a universal cell cycle checkpoint responsible for preventing chromosome mis-segregation by coupling their division with correct attachment to spindle microtubules during mitosis. Interesting, this established function of the SAC is weak in mammalian oocytes, such that the checkpoint is not engaged by a small number of chromosome attachment errors. Instead the SAC in oocytes appears more responsive to DNA damage- an association, interestingly, thought to be lacking in somatic cells. Having identified the probable pathway for spontaneous meiotic arrest for those oocytes that do not mature into eggs – DNA damage leading to SAC activation and so oocyte arrest- this project sets out to examine this pathway in detail. Overall the project aims to uncover the reasons why in oocytes a major obstacle to maturation is engaged just before a fully mature egg is formed, and the consequences of bypassing this obstacle on the health of the embryo created from such an egg. The ultimate hope is to establish the importance of this pathway, possibly uniquely employed by oocytes, to the physiological pathway of meiosis, and the creation of a viable embryo.

Principal Investigator: Prof Keith Jones
Funding: BBSRC
Funding Duration: September 2017-August 2020


Related research groups

Biomedical Sciences
Share this research project Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings