Tess Cherlin

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2011

Capstone Advisor

Dr. Melissa Pepling

Honors Reader

Dr. Craig Albertson

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Biochemistry | Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Chemistry


In developing pre-natal mice, germline cysts are clusters or packages of cells consisting of individual oocytes. They are formed after the primordial germ cells move to the ovary during embryogenesis. The primordial germ cells divide, but do not completely separate. The cells within the cysts are linked by intercellular bridges, which end up breaking down leading to the formation of primordial follicles. The primordial follicles are oocytes surrounded by somatic cells called granulosa cells. Only one third of the original oocytes survive cyst breakdown and become the eggs that will be used by the mouse for her reproduction. This developmental process is conserved in many organisms including Drosophila and humans. Infertility is a disorder that affects 330 million women in the United States alone. This striking statistic has led to much research on oocyte development. The developmental of cysts and cyst breakdown are vital to reproductive success as infertility arises when this process is hindered. Many factors can inhibit cyst breakdown, such as fetal exposure to estrogenic compounds found in the environment. By studying model organisms we hope to elucidate the mechanisms of cyst formation and regulation and bring this knowledge to the human scale. Cyst formation has already been well studied in fruit flies and in mice. My research will focus on oocyte development specifically cyst formation in zebrafish and how it compares to that of mice and fruit flies. Germline cysts have not been well studied in zebrafish so this research is relatively uncharted territory. To date there is some evidence to suggest the existence of germline cysts in other teleosts (bony fishes) such as the Medaka. By using the knowledge of what is known about cyst formation in Drosophila and mice, as well as literature on oogenesis in a wide range of organisms, I have conducted research to identify germline cysts in zebrafish. Zebrafish were sacrificed at different ages: from two weeks to adult, and their ovaries were stained with oocyte specific antibodies as well as antibodies that have been shown to mark intercellular bridges in Drosophila and mice. The ovary tissues were then imaged using confocal microscopy. My findings show preliminary data that supports the existence of germline cysts in zebrafish.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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