We describe a new gene (Oogenesin) that is expressed through oogenesis and early embryogenesis in the mouse. De novo expression starts at 15.5 dpc (days postcoitum) in the ovary, which coincides with the start of oogenesis. The isolated cDNA was 1387 base pairs (bp) in length with a single open reading frame of 326 amino acids corresponding to a predicted molecular mass of 37 kDa with no significant homology to previously reported sequences. A remarkable characteristic of the gene is the presence of a leucine zipper structure at amino acid positions 131–152 and a leucine-rich domain at positions 131–254. Northern blot analysis demonstrated that the mRNA was present only in the ovary, in which it was expressed as a single transcript of approximately 1.7 kb. In situ hybridization revealed distinct signals in the oocytes in follicles at all stages (primordial to antral follicles). Western blot analysis demonstrated that the protein is expressed from oocytes to four-cell-stage embryos and that it has a little larger size (46 kDa) than the predicted size of 37. Immunohistochemical analysis of ovary sections revealed that the protein is also expressed specifically in oocytes in follicles at all stages. Furthermore, immunostaining of preimplantation embryos revealed that the protein localizes in nuclei at the late one-cell and early two-cell stages. These results suggest that the gene has some roles in zygotic transcription of early preimplantation embryos as well as folliculogenesis and oogenesis in the mouse.
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