Faculty Advisor

DeMarais, Alyce

Area of Study

Science and Mathematics

Publication Date

Summer 2012


During oocyte maturation, the oocyte progresses from prophase I to metaphase II of meiosis, and a multitude of other cellular changes occur1. Wnt singaling pathways are known to regulate gene expression, cell behavior, cell adhesion, and cell polarity, as well as play an essential role in embryonic development. Because of this, I am examining the role of Wnt signaling pathways in the earlier process of oocyte maturation, specifically by looking at two Wnt signaling pathway components: β-catenin (ctnnb1) and Dishevelled (dvl2). β-catenin is a an interesting protein to study because it plays a dual role as both a cell adhesion protein when attached to membrane-bound complexes, and a coactivator for transcription by the Wnt pathway when free in the cytoplasm. Dishevelled is the “hub” of Wnt signaling and plays a key role in relaying external signals to internal pathway components. Preliminary research has suggested that β-catenin increases in relative cytoplasmic concentration after maturation, and my findings from last summer showed that this change is not the result of migration from cytoskeleton associated membrane-bound complexes. The first step in my research is to determine a reference gene for zebrafish oocyte maturation, as none are well classified for this specific scenario. I examined β –actin, GAPDH and ef1-α, as these were found to have constant expression during zebrafish embryo development or bovine oocyte development. This will be followed by examining the changes in mRNA concentrations for β-catenin and Dishevelled over the course of oocyte maturation in order to determine the role and importance of the Wnt signaling pathway in this process. Changes in mRNA concentrations are determined through real-time RTPCR analysis. The results of my research will contribute to our understanding of the cellular processes which occur during oocyte maturation, and the importance of signaling pathways such as the Wnt pathway in these processes.


University of Puget Sound