Micropylar Cell & Follicle EpitheliumThe ovarian follicle epithelium is a monolayer of epithelial cells around the developing oocytes. These epithelial cells connect to and communicate with the oocyte and help it develop properly, which is important for a successful fertilization event. In this epithelium, one cell, called the Micropylar cell, is different from all the other cells. The micropylar cell prepares the oocyte for fertilization by creating a hole
in the vitelline membrane forming between the follicle epithelium and the oocyte.
We have recently shown that one particular protein, the Hippo pathway effector Taz/Wwtr1, is required for the formation of this very particular cell. We are using this system to understand how one single cell, among hundreds apparently identical cells, can become different from the rest. Given the physical coupling between the oocyte and the follicle cells via cell-cell junctions, we are particularly interested in uncovering the role of physical cues in this process.