The oocyte is the major determinant of embryo developmental competence in all mammalian species. Although fundamental advances have been generated in the field of reproductive medicine and assisted reproductive technologies in the past three decades, researchers and clinicians are still trying to elucidate molecular factors and pathways, which could be pivotal for the oocyte’s developmental competence. The cell-to-cell and cell-to-matrix communications are crucial not only for oocytes but also for multicellular organisms in general. This latter mentioned communication is among others possibly due to the Connexin and Pannexin families of large-pore forming channels. Pannexins belong to a protein group of ATP-release channels, therefore of high importance for the oocyte due to its requirements of high energy supply. An increasing body of studies on Pannexins provided evidence that these channels not only play a role during physiological processes of an oocyte but also during pathological circumstances which could lead to the development of diseases or infertility. Connexins are proteins that form membrane channels and gap-junctions, and more precisely, these proteins enable the exchange of some ions and molecules, and therefore they do play a fundamental role in the communication between the oocyte and accompanying cells. Herein, the role of Pannexins and Connexins for the processes of oogenesis, folliculogenesis, oocyte maturation and fertilization will be discussed and, at the end of this review, Pannexin and Connexin related pathologies and their impact on the developmental competence of oocytes will be provided.
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