Mammalian ooplasm supports the preimplantation development and reprograms the introduced nucleus transferred from a somatic cell to confer pluripotency in a cloning experiment. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of oocyte competence remain unknown. Recent advances in microarray technologies have allowed gene expression profiling of such tiny specimens as oocytes and preimplantation embryos, generating a flood of information about gene expressions. So, what can we learn from it? Here, we review the initiative global gene expression studies of mouse and/or human oocytes, focusing on the lists of maternal transcripts and their expression patterns during oogenesis and preimplantation development. Especially, the genes expressed exclusively in oocytes should contribute to the uniqueness of oocyte competence, driving mammalian development systems of oocytes and preimplantation embryos. Furthermore, we discuss future directions for oocyte gene expression profiling, including discovering biomarkers of oocyte quality and exploiting the microarray data for 'making oocytes'.
ASJC Scopus subject areas