Lipid droplet proteins regulate the storage and utilisation of intracellular lipids. Evidence is emerging that oocyte lipid utilisation impacts embryo development, but lipid droplet proteins have not been studied in oocytes. The aim of the present study was to characterise the size and localisation of lipid droplets in mouse oocytes during the periovulatory period and to identify lipid droplet proteins as potential biomarkers of oocyte lipid content. Oocyte lipid droplets, visualised using a novel method of staining cumulusoocyte complexes (COCs) with BODIPY 493/503, were small and diffuse in oocytes of preovulatory COCs, but larger and more centrally located after maturation in response to ovulatory human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) in vivo, or FSH+epidermal growth factor in vitro. Lipid droplet proteins Perilipin, Perilipin-2, cell death-inducing DNA fragmentation factor 45-like effector (CIDE)-A and CIDE-B were detected in the mouse ovary by immunohistochemistry, but only Perilipin-2 was associated with lipid droplets in the oocyte. In COCs, Perilipin-2 mRNA and protein increased in response to ovulatory hCG. IVM failed to induce Perilipin-2 mRNA, yet oocyte lipid content was increased in this context, indicating that Perilipin-2 is not necessarily reflective of relative oocyte lipid content. Thus, Perilipin-2 is a lipid droplet protein in oocytes and its induction in the COC concurrent with dynamic reorganisation of lipid droplets suggests marked changes in lipid utilisation during oocyte maturation.
- in vitro maturation (IVM)