As reported by EurekAlert! When Joan Jorgensen was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her roommate confided that she had just one period before going through menopause in high school. Doctors told Jorgensen’s roommate that she would never have biological children.
“This is devastating news at any age, let alone a high school girl,” says Jorgensen, who is now a professor in the Department of Comparative Biosciences at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.
That experience stuck with Jorgensen, whose research focuses on fertility problems like premature ovarian failure, which leads to an early loss of viable eggs and which her roommate experienced. Using animal models, Jorgensen tries to understand how female fertility is affected by development of the ovary, which includes how cells organize to support eggs for the entire lifetime of that individual.
In new research published Aug. 2 in the journal PLOS Genetics, Jorgensen, graduate researcher Anqi Fu and others discovered that two genes work together to construct a cellular communication system in the ovaries of mice to maintain healthy eggs. The researchers describe this system as a series of junctions between the eggs and the cells that surround and support the eggs, known as granulosa cells. Both cells reach out to form multiple junctions that exchange information and ensure the proper development and survival of the egg leading up to ovulation. This research provides a piece of the puzzle of female infertility, and Jorgensen looks to build off these findings to uncover more information on premature ovarian failure and other fertility problems. Jorgensen and Fu collaborated with researchers at the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and the University of Toronto to complete this work. Read the article for rest of the story:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
National Institutes of Health (R01HD075079)
National Cancer Institute (P30 CA014520)
University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center Support Grant.