• goat GV oocyte;
  • chromatin configuration;
  • transcription;
  • meiotic competence


Configuration of germinal vesicle (GV) chromatin has been studied and found correlated with the developmental competence of oocytes in several mammalian species. A common feature in the configuration of GV chromatin in the species studied so far is that the diffuse chromatin (the so called “NSN” pattern) condenses into a perinucleolar ring (the so called “SN” configuration) with follicular growth. However, no study has been published on the configuration of GV chromatin in the goat. Nor is it known whether the perinucleolar ring of condensed chromatin (CC) in an oocyte represents a step toward final maturation or atresia. Changes in configurations of GV chromatin and RNA synthesis during goat oocyte growth, atresia and maturation in vivo and in vitro were investigated in this study. Based on both the size of nucleoli and the degree of chromatin condensation, the GV chromatin of goat oocytes was classified into GV1 characterized by large nucleoli and diffuse chromatin, GV2 with medium-sized nucleoli and condensed net-like (GV2n) or clumped (GV2c) chromatin, GV3 with small nucleoli and net-like (GV3n) or clumped (GV3c) chromatin, and GV4 with no nucleolus but clumped chromatin. The results showed that (i) the configurations of GV chromatin in the goat differ from those of other species in that the chromatin did not condense into a perinucleolar ring; (ii) most of the goat oocytes are synchronized at the GV3n configuration before GVBD; (iii) the GVn pattern might represent a healthy state, but the GVc an atretic state; (iv) in both goats and mice, the GC-specific (Chromomycin A3, CMA3) and the AT-specific (Hoechst 33342) fluorochromes followed the same pattern of distribution in GV chromatin; (v) the nucleolar size decreased significantly with oocyte growth and maturation in vivo and in vitro; and (vi) goat oocytes began GVBD at 8 hr and had completed it by 20 hr after onset of estrus. The peculiar configuration of GV chromatin of goat oocytes can be a useful model for studies of morphological and functional changes of different nuclear compartments during the cell cycle and cell differentiation, and the functional differentiation between GV3n and GV3c might be used for reference to the question whether the “SN” configuration in other species inclines toward ovulation or atresia. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 71: 227–236, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.