Follicular fluid (FF) accumulates in the antrum of the ovarian follicle and provides the microenvironment for oocyte development. FF plays an important role in follicle growth and oocyte maturation. The FF provides a unique window to investigate the processes occurring during buffalo follicular development. The observed low quality of buffalo oocytes may arise from the poor follicular microenvironment. Investigating proteins found in buffalo FF (BFF) should provide insight into follicular development processes and provide further understanding of intra-follicular maturation and oocytes quality. Here, a proteomic-based approach was used to analyze the proteome of BFF. SDS-PAGE separation combined with mass spectrometry was used to generate the proteomic dataset. In total, 363 proteins were identified and classified by Gene Ontology terms. The proteins were assigned to 153 pathways, including signaling pathways. To evaluate difference in proteins expressed between BFF with different follicle size (small, <4 mm; and large, >8 mm), a quantitative proteomic analysis based on multi-dimensional liquid chromatography pre-fractionation tandem Orbitrap mass spectrometry identification was performed. Eleven differentially expressed proteins (six downregulated and five upregulated in large BFF) were identified and assigned to a variety of functional processes, including serine protease inhibition, oxidation protection and the complement cascade system. Three differentially expressed proteins, Vimentin, Peroxiredoxin-1 and SERPIND1, were verified by Western blotting, consistent with the quantitative proteomics results. Our datasets offers new information about proteins present in BFF and should facilitate the development of new biomarkers. These differentially expressed proteins illuminate the size-dependent protein changes in follicle microenvironment.
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