The role of BH3-only proteins in apoptosis within the ovary

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Abstract

BH3-only proteins are pro-apoptotic members of the BCL2 family that play pivotal roles in embryonic development, tissue homeostasis and immunity by triggering cell death through the intrinsic apoptosis pathway. Recent in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that BH3-only proteins are also essential mediators of apoptosis within the ovary and are responsible for the initiation of the cell death signalling cascade in a cell type and stimulus-specific fashion. This review gives a brief overview of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway and summarise the roles of individual BH3-only proteins in the promotion of apoptosis in embryonic germ cells, oocytes, follicular granulosa cells and luteal cells. The role of these proteins in activating apoptosis in response to developmental cues and cell stressors, such as exposure to chemotherapy, radiation and environmental toxicants, is described. Studies on the function of BH3-only proteins in the ovary are providing valuable insights into the regulation of oocyte number and quality, as well as ovarian endocrine function, which collectively influence the female reproductive lifespan and health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81 - 89
Number of pages9
JournalReproduction
Volume149
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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