PFC Embryologist Published in Nature Cell Biology

Posted on April 30, 2014 by Inception Fertility

Simona Torcia, MS, PhD, an embryologist at Pacific Fertility Center (PFC), recently co-authored a paper that contributes to a growing body of knowledge about immature egg cell (oocyte) development. Published in the December issue of Nature Cell Biology, the article is entitled “Somatic cells regulate maternal mRNA translation and developmental competence of mouse oocytes.”

Until a few years ago, researchers were uncertain about the impact of the body’s other cells (somatic cells) upon egg development, said Dr. Torcia. It was previously thought that, once an oocyte began developing, it was no longer under the influence of somatic cells and was acting autonomously.

“With this study,” she said, “we contributed to a concept underscoring the pivotal importance of the surrounding environment in which oocytes develop.” In fact, correct maternal mRNA translation (which is part of the gene expression process), and the accumulation of corresponding proteins in the oocyte—due to cell-to cell communication between somatic cells and the oocyte—is critical for efficient and full embryo development.

If extended to humans, these preliminary data may one day become useful in assisted reproductive technology (ART) programs, said Dr. Torcia. For example, the presence of certain proteins might help predict whether an oocyte would be likely to develop into an embryo that would successfully implant and sustain a full-term pregnancy.

Dr. Torcia received an MS in molecular biology with a focus on DNA damage repair systems in mouse embryos at La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, as well as a PhD in cellular biology with a focus on gene expression during murine embryo development. She has been an embryologist at PFC for nearly three years.

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