One method to identify the factors that control ovarian function is to characterize the genes that are expressed in ovary. In the present study, cDNA libraries from fetal, neonatal, and prepubertal porcine ovaries, pubertal ovaries on different days of the estrous cycle (Days 0 [follicle], 5, and 12 [follicle and corpus luteum]), and follicles isolated from weaned sows (diameter, 2, 4, 6, and 8 mm) were constructed and sequenced. A total of 22 176 cDNAs were sequenced, of which 15 613 were of sufficient quality for clustering. Clustering of cDNAs resulted in 8507 contigs, 6294 (74%) of which were comprised of a single sequence. Sixty-eight percent of the contigs had consensus sequences that were homologous to existing Tentative Consensus (TC) sequences or mature transcripts (ET) in The Institute for Genomic Research Porcine Gene Index. The consensus sequences were classified according to the Gene Ontology Index. Most cDNA-encoded proteins were components of the nucleus, ribosome, or mitochondrion. The proteins primarily functioned in binding, catalysis, and transport. Nearly 75% of the proteins were involved in metabolism and cell growth and/or maintenance. Analysis of the cDNA frequency across different libraries demonstrated differential gene expression within different-size follicles, between follicles and corpora lutea, and across developmental time-points. The expression of selected genes (analyzed by ribonuclease protection assay and Northern blotting) was consistent with the frequency of their respective cDNA in the individual libraries. This porcine ovary unigene set will be useful for identifying factors and mechanisms controlling ovarian follicular development in a variety of species.
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