The established follicle envelope of Necturus maculosus consists of a layer of follicle cells (granulosa) surrounding the developing oocyte, a layer of theca comprised of connective tissue cells, fibers, and matrix, and a layer of serosal cells. The changes in shape and fine structure of these layers during differentiation accompanying oogenesis are described. The cells and capillaries of the follicle envelope are engaged in an extensive pinocytotic activity, the details of which are described. We used cytochemical techniques to analyze the activity of the follicle envelope with respect to lipid accumulation and alkaline phosphatase activity. Radioautographic results indicate that cells of the follicle envelope are capable of incorporating tritium-labeled uridine and amino acids at certain times during oocyte growth. A comparative analysis was made of the soluble proteins in follicle envelopes isolated from immature oocytes and of those in follicle envelopes isolated from nearly mature oocytes and in postovulatory follicles. After the oocyte is ovulated, the cells of the follicle envelope are converted into a postovulatory follicle. The cells of the postovulatory follicle undergo further differentiation resulting in their becoming actively engaged in the formation of a secretion, the details of which are described at the electron microscope level. Analysis of the postovulatory follicle by thin-layer chromatography and cytochemistry demonstrated the presence of a wide variety of lipid substances and the possible presence of steroid. That the postovulatory follicle may be engaged in steroid biosynthesis is also suggested by studies involving the demonstration of 3 ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity with cytochemical techniques applied to frozen sections and to soluble proteins separated by gel electrophoresis.

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