Coordination of cellular differentiation, polarity, mitosis and meiosis – New findings from early vertebrate oogenesis

Yaniv M. Elkouby, Mary C. Mullins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


A mechanistic dissection of early oocyte differentiation in vertebrates is key to advancing our knowledge of germline development, reproductive biology, the regulation of meiosis, and all of their associated disorders. Recent advances in the field include breakthroughs in the identification of germline stem cells in Medaka, in the cellular architecture of the germline cyst in mice, in a mechanistic dissection of chromosomal pairing and bouquet formation in meiosis in mice, in tracing oocyte symmetry breaking to the chromosomal bouquet of meiosis in zebrafish, and in the biology of the Balbiani body, a universal oocyte granule. Many of the major events in early oogenesis are universally conserved, and some are co-opted for species-specific needs. The chromosomal events of meiosis are of tremendous consequence to gamete formation and have been extensively studied. New light is now being shed on other aspects of early oocyte differentiation, which were traditionally considered outside the scope of meiosis, and their coordination with meiotic events. The emerging theme is of meiosis as a common groundwork for coordinating multifaceted processes of oocyte differentiation. In an accompanying manuscript we describe methods that allowed for investigations in the zebrafish ovary to contribute to these breakthroughs. Here, we review these advances mostly from the zebrafish and mouse. We discuss oogenesis concepts across established model organisms, and construct an inclusive paradigm for early oocyte differentiation in vertebrates.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)275-287
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • Animal-vegetal axis
  • Balbiani body
  • Centrosome
  • Chromosomal bouquet
  • Meiosis
  • Oocyte polarity
  • Oogenesis
  • Symmetry-breaking
  • Zebrafish


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