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Lei Lei

Lei Lei

Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health

Research Emphasis

Dr. Lei’s research focuses on mammalian ovarian reserve formation, maintenance, and its associated female reproductive health issues. The Lei lab is particularly interested in understanding 1) how the intercellular transport of organelles and cytoplasm during ovarian reserve formation in fetal ovaries influences ovarian function and female fertility in adulthood; 2) the roles of organelle organization and RNA storage in ovarian reserve maintenance and activation in adult females; and 3) cellular origins of ovarian cancer. Dr. Lei’s research has been reported in Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS), Development and Biology Open, etc. Dr. Lei has been peer-reviewing research articles for Science, PNAS, Nature Medicine, etc. and research grants for the National Institutes of Health.

Research Interests

  • Ovarian organogenesis
  • Germ cell/stem cell biology
  • Organelle transport in oocyte differentiation
  • Organelle organization-mediated RNA storage in oocyte quiescence
  • Ovarian cancer


  • BS, Biology 2001, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China
  • PhD, Physiology (Reproductive Endocrinology) 2006, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China
  • Postdoctoral Fellow 2009 , Ovarian Biology, Feinberg School of Medicine,
    Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • Postdoctoral Associate 2015, Germ Cell/Stem Cell Biology, HHMI, Department of
    Embryology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Baltimore, MD

Selected Publications

Lei L, Guo Y, Yang W, Xie H, Wang H, Xia G: The mechanism of the effects of recombinant human gonadotropins on ovulation in mice. Progress in Natural Science 12(8): 857-860, 2002.

Bu S, Xia G, Tao Y, Lei L, Zhou B: Dual effects of nitric oxide on meiotic maturation of mouse cumulus cell-enclosed oocytes in vitro. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 207(1-2): 21-30, 2003. PM12972180

Zhang M, Tao Y, Xia G, Xie H, Hong H, Wang F, Lei L: Atrial natriuretic peptide negatively regulates follicle-stimulating hormone-induced porcine oocyte maturation and cumulus expansion via cGMP- dependent protein kinase pathway. Theriogenology 64(4): 902-916, 2005. PM16054495

Zhang M, Tao Y, Zhou B, Xie H, Wang F, Lei L, Huo L, Sun Q, Xia G: Atrial natriuretic peptide inhibits the actions of FSH and forskolin in meiotic maturation of pig oocytes via different signalling pathways. J. Mol. Endocrinol. 34(2): 459-472, 2005. PM15821110

Tao JY, Fu Z, Zhang ML, Xia G, Lei L, Wu ZL: Nitric oxide influences the meiotic maturation of porcine oocytes cultured in hypoxanthine-supplemented medium. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl) 89(1-2): 38- 44, 2005. PM19112714

Tao Y, Fu Z, Xia G, Lei L, Chen X, Yang M: Inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and luteal cell DNA fragmentation of porcine cyclic corpora lutea. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci 18 (5): 626-631, 2005.

Fu M, Chen X, Yan J, Lei L, Jin S, Yang J, Song X, Zhang M, Xia G: Luteinizing hormone receptors expression in cumulus cells closely related to mouse oocyte meiotic maturation. Front. Biosci. 12(5): 1804-1813, 2006. PM17127422

Jin S, Zhang M, Lei L, Wang C, Fu M, Ning G, Xia G: Meiosis activating sterol (MAS) regulate FSH- induced meiotic resumption of cumulus cell-enclosed porcine oocytes via PKC pathway. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 249(1-2): 64-70, 2006. PM16500744

Wang F, Shen Y, Song X, Xia G, Chen X, Zhou B, Lei L: cDNA cloning, genomic structure and expression analysis of the bovine lanosterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51) in gonads. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 29 (3): 430-436, 2006. PM16508140

Lei L, Zhang H, Jin S, Wang F, Fu M, Wang H, Xia G: Stage-specific germ-somatic cell interaction directs the primordial folliculogenesis in mouse fetal ovaries. J. Cell. Physiol. 208(3): 640-647, 2006. PM16741957

Lei L, Jin S, Gonzalez G, Behringer RR, Woodruff TK: The regulatory role of Dicer in folliculogenesis in mice. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 315(1-2): 63-73, 2010. PM19799966

Lei L, Jin S, Mayo KE, Woodruff TK: The interactions between the stimulatory effect of follicle-stimulating hormone and the inhibitory effect of estrogen on mouse primordial folliculogenesis. Biol. Reprod. 82(1): 13-22, 2010. PM19641178

Jin S, Lei L, Shea LD, Zelinski MB, Stouffer RL, Woodruff TK: Markers of growth and development in primate primordial follicles are preserved after slow cryopreservation. Fertil. Steril. 93(8): 2627-2632, 2010. PM20074723

Jin SY, Lei L, Shikanov A, Shea LD, Woodruff TK: A novel two-step strategy for in vitro culture of earlystage ovarian follicles in the mouse. Fertil. Steril. 93(8): 2633-2639, 2010. PM20004373

Antenos M, Lei L, Xu M, Malipatil A, Kiesewetter S, Woodruff TK: Role of PCSK5 expression in mouse ovarian follicle development: Identification of the inhibin α- and β-subunits as candidate substrates. PLoS ONE 6(3): e17348, 2011. PM21408162

Lei L, Spradling AC: Female mice lack adult germ-line stem cells but sustain oogenesis using stable primordial follicles. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110(21): 8585-8590, 2013. PM23630252

Lei L, Spradling AC: Mouse primordial germ cells produce cysts that partially fragment prior to meiosis. Development 140(10): 2075-2081, 2013. PM23578925

Lei L*, Spradling AC*: Back to basics: Unraveling the mystery of mammalian germ cell connectivity using lineage analysis. The Node, 2016.

Lei L*, Spradling AC*: Mouse oocytes differentiate through organelle enrichment from sister cyst germ cells. Science 352(6281): 95-99, 2016. PM26917595

Ikami K, Nuzhat N, Lei L*: Organelle transport during mouse oocyte differentiation in germline cysts. Curr Opin Cell Biol 44: 14-19, 2017. PM28038435

Lu K, Jensen L, Lei L, Yamashita YM: Stay Connected: A Germ Cell Strategy. Trends Genet 17: 30152, 2017. PM28947158

Ikami K, Nuzhat N, Abbott H, Pandoy R, Haky L, Spradling AC, Tanner H, Lei L*. Altered germline cyst formation and oogenesis in Tex14 mutant mice. Biology Open 10 (6):bio058807, 2021. PM34156079

Lei L*, Ikami K, Abbott H, Jin S. The mouse Balbiani body maintains primordial follicle quiescence via RNA storage. bioRxiv, 2020, doi: