A real-time polymerase chain reaction-based gene expression survey was performed using 37 target genes and 22 female rainbow trout sampled during follicular maturational competence (FMC) acquisition or during oocyte maturation. In females sampled before meiosis resumption, FMC was estimated using an in vitro assay. Several growth factors, bone morphogenetic proteins, steroidogenic enzymes, cathepsins, genes known to play a role in the fish preovulatory ovary, as well as previously unstudied genes, were analyzed in this survey. Gene expression profiling was performed using a supervised clustering analysis in order to identify groups of genes exhibiting similar expression profiles in the ovary during FMC acquisition and follicular maturation. From the clustering analysis, three clusters exhibiting a specific expression during FMC acquisition or at the time of oocyte maturation were identified. Cluster 1 was characterized by a progressive increase in gene expression during FMC acquisition, whereas cluster 2 exhibited an increased expression at the time of oocyte maturation. In contrast, cluster 3 was characterized by a decreased mRNA expression at the time of oocyte maturation. Among the 37 target genes used in this survey, 18 were significantly regulated during maturational competence acquisition or at the time of oocyte maturation. Among these 18 genes, 16 belonged to one of the three clusters identified. Although the results allowed a global description of gene expression profiles, they also suggest an important role for several factors, including some previously unstudied bone morphogenetic proteins, in the paracrine control of FMC acquisition and meiosis resumption.
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