The mammalian egg contains a unique set of gene products that are pivotal for the formation of a healthy embryo. Aberrant synthesis of even one of these key molecules can lead to female infertility or early pregnancy loss due to defective eggs in mice. As the majority of these key gene products are conserved during evolution, they are very likely to play essential roles in human reproduction. Infertility affects between 37 and 70 million married couples worldwide, and many of the cases can be attributed to genetic errors in the female egg. Thus, identification and functional characterization of egg-specific gene products will greatly benefit women’s reproductive health.
Taking bioinformatics and molecular biology approaches, Dr. Wu’s laboratory identified several novel gene products that may be essential for the production of a fertilizable egg and development of early embryos in mice and rhesus macaques. Functions of these genes are investigated using genetic engineered mouse models and in vitro gene modification methodologies. In fact, Dr. Wu’s laboratory is a pioneer in applying RNA interference (RNAi) techniques in nonhuman primate eggs. Some of the ongoing projects also include exploring effective in vivo gene targeting techniques in the nonhuman primate ovary and growing eggs.
Dr. Wu’s laboratory is a member of the NIH-funded U54 Contraceptive Development Research Center at ONPRC. In a collaborative effort with Dr. Jeffrey Jensen, the research in Dr. Wu’s laboratory focuses on the development of non-hormonal contraceptives that specifically target the process of egg maturation. Compared to traditional hormone-based contraceptives, these novel contraceptives are expected to be more efficient and with fewer side effects, as their targets are restricted to the maturing ovarian follicles. Our ultimate goal is to translate scientific advances in gamete biology from animals to humans.
XuemeiWu is an assistant scientist in the Division of Reproductive Sciences and has a joint appointment in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology in the School of Medicine, OHSU. After receiving a Ph.D. in Physiology in Peking Union Medical College, she moved to Houston, TX to conduct her postdoctoral research in female reproduction and developmental biology in Baylor College of Medicine. After briefly serving as an instructor in the Center for Developmental Biology in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, she joined ONPRC in July 2005.
Wu, X. Maternal depletion of NLRP5 blocks early embryogenesis in rhesus macaque monkeys. Human Reproduction. 2009, 24(2):415-24. Epub 2008 Dec 3. PMID: 19054779
McDaniel, P., Wu, X. Identification of oocyte selective NLRP genes in rhesus macaque monkeys (Macaca Mulatta). Mol Reprod Dev, Mol Reprod Dev. 2009, 76(2):151-9.PMID: 18509866
Wu, X., L. Chen, C.A. Brown, C. Yan, and M.M. Matzuk. Interrelationship of growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) and inhibin in early folliculogenesis and ovarian tumorigenesis in mice. Mol Endo, 2004, 18:1509-151. PMID: 15016837
Wu, X., Viveiros, M. M., Eppig, J. J., and Matzuk, M. M. Zygote arrest 1 (Zar1) is a novel maternal effect gene critical for the oocyte-to-embryo transition. Nat Genet, 2003, 33 (2):187-191. PMID: 12539046
See a full listing of Dr. Wu's publications