The Foxos are key effectors of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and regulate diverse physiologic processes. Two of these factors, Foxo1 and Foxo3, serve specific roles in reproduction in the mouse. Foxo3 is required for suppression of primordial follicle activation in females, while Foxo1 regulates spermatogonial stem cell maintenance in males. In the mouse ovary, Foxo1 is highly expressed in somatic cells (but not in oocytes), suggesting an important functional role for Foxo1 in these cells. Given that invertebrate model species such as Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster harbor a single ancestral Foxo homolog, these observations suggest that gene duplication conferred a selective advantage by permitting the Foxos to adopt distinct roles in oogenesis and spermatogenesis. Our objective was to determine if the remarkably specific expression patterns of Foxo1 and Foxo3 in mouse gonads (and, by inference, Foxo function) are conserved in diverse mammalian species. Western blotting was used to validate isoform-specific antibodies in rodents, companion animals, farm animals, nonhuman primates, and humans. Following validation of each antibody, immunohistochemistry was performed to ascertain Foxo1 and Foxo3 gonadal expression patterns. While Foxo1 expression in spermatogonia and granulosa cells was conserved in each species evaluated, Foxo3 expression in oocytes was not. Our findings suggest that Foxo3 is not uniquely required for primordial follicle maintenance in nonrodent species and that other Foxos, particularly Foxo1, may contribute to oocyte maintenance in a functionally redundant manner.
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Vol. 88 • No. 4