The transforming growth factor beta (TGFB) protein family is renowned for its diverse roles in developmental biology including reproduction. Gremlin is a member of the differential screening-selected gene aberrative in neuroblastoma (DAN)/cerberus family of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) antagonists. Recent studies on gremlin focus on its involvement in embryonic skeletal, lung, and kidney development. To define the role of gremlin (Grem1) in female reproduction, we analyzed postnatal folliculogenesis using global and conditional knockout (cKO) mice for gremlin. Grem1−/− mice die within 48 h after birth, and ovaries collected from neonatal Grem1−/− mice demonstrated reduced oocyte numbers and delayed primordial follicle development. Transplanting Grem1−/− neonatal ovaries showed that folliculogenesis proceeded to large antral follicle stage, but Grem1−/− ovaries contained corpora lutea-like structures not found in control-transplanted ovaries. However, Grem1 cKO mice had comparable fertility to control mice. These data suggest that gremlin plays a previously uncharacterized role in the regulation of oocyte numbers and the timing of primordial follicle development, but either it is not required for later folliculogenesis or its loss is possibly compensated by other BMP antagonists.
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Vol. 85 • No. 6