The multifaceted polycomb group gene Yin-Yang1 (Yy1) has been implicated in a variety of transcriptional regulatory roles both as an activator and silencer of gene expression. Here we examine the role of Yy1 during oocyte growth by conditional deletion of the locus in the growing oocyte. Our results indicate that YY1 is required for oocyte maturation and granulosa cell expansion. In mutant oocytes, we observe severely reduced expression of both Gdf9 and Bmp15, suggesting a mechanism underlying the failure of granulosa cell expansion. Consequently, we observe infertility, failure of estrus cycling, and altered reproductive hormone levels in mutant females. Additionally, we find that YY1-deficient oocytes exhibit altered levels of several oocyte-specific factors, including Pou5f1, Figla, Lhx8, Oosp1, and Sohlh2. These results document YY1's involvement in folliculogenesis and ovarian function in the mouse and indicate that YY1 is required specifically in the oocyte for oocyte-granulosa cell communication.
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Vol. 84 • No. 4