The overall objective of my laboratory is to understand better the mechanisms of follicle cell differentiation. During follicle development, there is significant growth of the follicle and proliferation and differentiation of granulosa cells. We are currently studying roles of members of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family. This large family contains 22 peptides and 7 receptors (which result from alternative splicing of 4 FGFR genes). We have described the expression of a number of these FGF genes in the bovine follicle, and we are determining which FGFs play important roles in follicle development. We are particularly interested in FGF18 which is an atypical growth factor as it induces granulosa cell death. We are currently studying the regulation of secretion of this protein from various cell types within the ovarian follicle.