Pannexin 1 inhibition delays maturation and improves development of Bos taurus oocytes
Journal of Ovarian Research
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© 2020 The Author(s). Background: Intercellular exchange between the oocyte and its surrounding cells within the follicular environment is critical for oocyte maturation and subsequent development. In vertebrates this exchange is facilitated through gap junctions formed by connexin membrane proteins. Another family of membrane proteins called pannexins are able to form single membrane channels that allow cellular exchanges with the extracellular environment. The most ubiquitously expressed and studied member, pannexin 1 (PANX1), has yet to be described thoroughly in female reproductive tissues or functionally studied during oocyte maturation. Here, we look into the expression of pannexin 1 in bovine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs), as well as, its potential role in oocyte maturation and development. Results: We show that pannexin 1 is expressed in bovine COCs and that the expression of PANX1 was significantly lower in COCs isolated from large antral follicles (> 5 mm) compared to those isolated from small antral follicles (< 2 mm). Supporting this we also found lower expression of PANX1 in oocytes with higher developmental potential when compared to oocytes with lower developmental potential. We further found that PANX1 channel inhibition during in vitro maturation resulted in temporarily delayed meiotic maturation and improved in vitro developmental outcomes while decreasing intercellular reactive oxygen species. Conclusions: These data suggests PANX1 is differentially expressed at a critical stage of follicular development when oocytes are acquiring developmental competence, and may play a role in the timing of oocyte maturation.