Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2010

Capstone Advisor

Dr. Melissa Pepling

Honors Reader

Dr. John Belote

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


During embryogenesis in the mouse, primordial germ cells develop, move to the genital ridge of the embryo, and form germline cysts as the ovary develops. The cells in these cysts are linked by intercellular bridges. The cysts then undergo a breakdown process which ultimately results in primordial follicles, each of which consists of a single oocyte surrounded by somatic cells called granulosa cells. During this cyst breakdown process, approximately one-third of the original oocytes become enclosed in primordial follicles, the amount of which is representative of the number of eggs a female will have available to her during her reproductive life, while the other oocytes die. It has already been evidenced that introducing environmental estrogens into the female mouse during one of three critical time periods in development can alter oocyte development, thus limiting the female’s number of primordial follicles that can be used to reproduce. Because the cyst breakdown mechanism is conserved in other mammals; the mouse can be used as a model for studying germ cell development in humans, thus providing valuable insight into female reproductive disorders that may be caused by follicle depletion, such as primary amenhorrea and premature ovarian insufficiency. My area of research is to determine whether exogenous estrogens have an effect on cyst breakdown during the perinatal period. In order to accomplish this, neonatal mice were injected subcutaneously with two concentrations of three different estrogenic compounds on post-natal days 1-4 (PND1-4). These mice were dissected for their ovaries on PND5. After dissection, the ovaries were fixed, stained with an oocyte marker, and observed using a laser-scanning confocal microscope. The images were analyzed to characterize and quantify the follicles within the ovaries, and the results were compared to see if there was a difference between the amount of cyst breakdown and the progression of follicle development between the experimental groups and the control group. Additionally, materials that were used to prepare the injections of exogenous estrogens were separately tested on mice in order to test the effectiveness of the injection materials.

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.

Included in

Biochemistry Commons



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