Oocyte-specific linker histone H1foo is localized in the oocyte nucleus, either diffusely or bound to chromatin, during the processes of meiotic maturation and fertilization. This expression pattern suggests that H1foo plays a key role in the control of gene expression and chromatin modification during oogenesis and early embryogenesis. To reveal the function of H1foo, we microinjected antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MO) against H1foo into mouse germinal-vesicle stage oocytes. The rate of in vitro maturation of the antisense MO group was significantly lower than that of the control group. Eggs that failed to extrude a first polar body following injection of antisense MO arrested at metaphase I. Additionally, co-injection of in vitro synthesized H1foo mRNA along with antisense MO successfully rescued expression of H1foo and improved the in vitro maturation rate. There was no difference in the rate of parthenogenesis between the antisense MO and control groups. These results indicate that H1foo is essential for maturation of germinal vesicle-stage oocytes.
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