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1.  Extracellular Vesicles from Bovine Follicular Fluid Support Cumulus Expansion1 
Biology of Reproduction  2015;93(5):117.
Expansion of the cumulus complex surrounding the oocyte is critical for ovulation of a fertilizable egg. The ovulation-inducing surge of luteinizing hormone leads to an increased expression of genes such as prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (Ptgs2), pentraxin-related protein 3 (Ptx3), and tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 6 (Tnfaip6) that support cumulus expansion. Factors released by mural granulosa and cumulus granulosa cells into the follicular fluid induce paracrine signaling within the follicular compartment. The follicular fluid that separates these distinct granulosa cell types is an enriched fluid containing numerous proteins, nucleic acids, and other macromolecules. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are also present; however, no physiologically relevant functions of follicular EVs have yet been demonstrated. In our study, the effect of follicular EVs on cumulus-oocyte complex (COC) expansion and relevant gene expression was assayed. Follicular EVs were isolated using ultracentrifugation from follicular fluid of small (3–5 mm) and large (>9 mm) antral bovine follicles, then characterized by nanoparticle tracking analysis, electron microscopy, and Western blot analysis. To test for bioactivity, mouse and bovine COCs were cultured with follicular EVs. Cumulus expansion and Ptgs2, Ptx3, and Tnfaip6 gene expression were measured following COC maturation culture. The results demonstrated that follicular EVs can support both measurable cumulus expansion and increased gene expression.
PMCID: PMC4712005  PMID: 26423123
cumulus; exosome; extracellular vesicles; follicular fluid; granulosa; oocyte
2.  Exosomes in carcinogenesis: molecular palkis carry signals for the regulation of cancer progression and metastasis 
Exosomes, which act as biological cargo vessels, are cell-released, phospholipid-enclosed vesicles. In eukaryotic cells, exosomes carry and exchange biological materials or signals for the benefit or detriment to the cells. Thereby, we consider exosomes to be molecular Palkis (carriers). Although exosomes are currently one of the most popularly researched cellular entities, they have remained largely enigmatic and warrant continued investigation into their structure and functions. These membraned vesicles are between 30 and 150 nm in diameter and are actively secreted by all cell types. While initially considered cellular “trash bags,” recent years have revealed exosomes to be dynamic and multi-functional vesicles that may play a crucial role in cancer development, progression and metastasis. Thereby, they have the potential to be used in development of therapeutic modalities for cancer and other diseases. As more research studies emerge, it’s becoming evident that exosomes are released by cells with a purpose and are representatives of certain cell types and disease conditions. Hence, they may also be used as biomarkers for the detection of cancer initiation, progression and organotropic metastatic growth of cancer cells. This review will focus on the recent developments achieved in identifying the role of exosomes in cancer development and progression as well as therapeutic implications. The review will also discuss the pitfalls of methodologies used for the extraction of exosomes.
PMCID: PMC5055496  PMID: 27473382
Exosome; Cancer; Vesicle; Progression and metastasis
3.  Differentially expressed genes in preimplantation human embryos: potential candidate genes for blastocyst formation and implantation 
The aim of this study was to determine which genes and gene pathways are differentially expressed when comparing human blastocysts with cleavage-stage embryos.
We individually assessed gene expression in preimplantation human embryos at cleavage (n = 3) and blastocyst (n = 3) stages. Gene expression patterns were then validated in publically available datasets and then independently validated in vitro with additional human embryos using TaqMan gene expression assays. Immunolocalization studies were conducted to identify protein expression in intact blastocyst-stage embryos.
Compared to cleavage-stage embryos, blastocyst-stage embryos differentially expressed 51 genes (p < 0.001), with overrepresentation in amoebiasis pathways and pathways in cancer. Of these 51 genes, 21 were found to be independently validated in a separate, publically available dataset, with a substantial agreement with our initial findings (κ = 0.8). In an independent set of cleavage- and blastocyst-stage embryos, we validated that six of eight tested genes were differentially expressed (p < 0.05) by RT-qPCR. Immunofluorescence studies documented the presence of two studied proteins in the trophectoderm of blastocyst-stage embryos.
Differentially expressed genes may be implicated in the invasion and proliferation of the early embryo. Our research highlights specific genes that may be further studied for their role in the implantation process and additionally raises questions about localized gene and/or protein expression in the trophectoderm, which could affect protocols for, and interpretation of, trophectoderm biopsies performed in in vitro fertilization cycles.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10815-016-0745-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4974233  PMID: 27241529
Preimplantation embryo; Gene expression; Blastocyst; Embryo culture; Cancer
4.  Characterization and Small RNA Content of Extracellular Vesicles in Follicular Fluid of Developing Bovine Antral Follicles 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:25486.
Exosomes and microvesicles (i.e., extracellular vesicles: EVs) have been identified within ovarian follicular fluid and recent evidence suggests that EVs are able to elicit profound effects on ovarian cell function. While existence of miRNA within EVs has been reported, whether EV size and concentration as well as their cargos (i.e., proteins and RNA) change during antral follicle growth remains unknown. Extracellular vesicles isolated from follicular fluid of small, medium and large bovine follicles were similar in size, while concentration of EVs decreased progressively as follicle size increased. Electron microscopy indicated a highly purified population of the lipid bilayer enclosed vesicles that were enriched in exosome biomarkers including CD81 and Alix. Small RNA sequencing identified a large number of known and novel miRNAs that changed in the EVs of different size follicles. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) indicated that miRNA abundant in small follicle EV preparations were associated with cell proliferation pathways, while those miRNA abundant in large follicle preparations were related to inflammatory response pathways. These studies are the first to demonstrate that EVs change in their levels and makeup during antral follicle development and point to the potential for a unique vesicle-mediated cell-to-cell communication network within the ovarian follicle.
PMCID: PMC4860563  PMID: 27158133
5.  MicroRNA Expression can be a Promising Strategy for the Detection of Barrett's Esophagus: A Pilot Study 
Patient outcomes for esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) have not improved despite huge advances in endoscopic therapy because cancers are being diagnosed late. Barrett's esophagus (BE) is the primary precursor lesion for EAC, and thus the non-endoscopic molecular diagnosis of BE can be an important approach to improve EAC outcomes if robust biomarkers for timely diagnosis are identified. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are tissue-specific novel biomarkers that regulate gene expression and may satisfy this requirement.
Patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and BE were selected from an ongoing tissue and serum repository. BE was defined by the presence of intestinal metaplasia. Previously published miRNA sequencing profiles of GERD and BE patients allowed us to select three miRNAs, miR-192-5p, -215-5p, and -194-5p, for further testing in a discovery cohort and an independent validation cohort. Receiver operating curves were generated to calculate the diagnostic accuracy of these miRNAs for BE diagnosis. To test specificity, the miRNA signature was compared with those of the gastric cardia epithelium and the non-intestinal-type columnar epithelium (another definition of BE). In addition, to gain insights into BE origin (intestinal vs non-intestinal), global BE miRNA profiles were compared with the published miRNA profiles of other columnar epithelia in the gastrointestinal tract, that is, normal stomach and small and large intestine.
The discovery cohort included 67 white male patients (40 with GERD and 27 with BE). The validation cohort included 28 patients (19 with GERD and 11 with BE). In the discovery cohort, the sensitivity, specificity and area under the curve (AUC) of the three mRNAs for BE diagnosis were 92–100%, 94–95%, and 0.96–0.97, respectively. During validation, the sensitivity and specificity of miRNAs for BE diagnosis were as follows: miR-192-5p, 92% and 94%, AUC 0.94 (0.80–0.99, P=0.0004); miR-215-5p, 100% and 94%, AUC 0.98 (0.84–1, P=0.0004); and miR-194-5p, 91% and 94%, AUC 0.96 (0.80–0.99, P=0.0001), respectively. The tested miRNAs identified all BE patients in both the discovery and the validation cohorts. When compared with non intestinal-type columnar and gastric cardia epithelia, the miRNA signature was specific to the intestinal-type columnar epithelium. Comparisons of BE miRNA sequencing data to published data sets for the normal stomach, small intestine and large intestine confirmed that two of the three miRNAs (miR-215-5p and -194-5p) were specific to the intestinal-type epithelium.
MicroRNAs are highly accurate for detecting intestinal-type BE epithelia and should be tested further for the non-endoscopic molecular diagnosis of BE.
PMCID: PMC4274369  PMID: 25502391
6.  Ovarian autoimmune disease: clinical concepts and animal models 
Cellular and Molecular Immunology  2014;11(6):510-521.
The ovary is not an immunologically privileged organ, but a breakdown in tolerogenic mechanisms for ovary-specific antigens has disastrous consequences on fertility in women, and this is replicated in murine models of autoimmune disease. Isolated ovarian autoimmune disease is rare in women, likely due to the severity of the disease and the inability to transmit genetic information conferring the ovarian disease across generations. Nonetheless, autoimmune oophoritis is often observed in association with other autoimmune diseases, particularly autoimmune adrenal disease, and takes a toll on both society and individual health. Studies in mice have revealed at least two mechanisms that protect the ovary from autoimmune attack. These mechanisms include control of autoreactive T cells by thymus-derived regulatory T cells, as well as a role for the autoimmune regulator (AIRE), a transcriptional regulator that induces expression of tissue-restricted antigens in medullary thymic epithelial cells during development of T cells. Although the latter mechanism is incompletely defined, it is well established that failure of either results in autoimmune-mediated targeting and depletion of ovarian follicles. In this review, we will address the clinical features and consequences of autoimmune-mediated ovarian infertility in women, as well as the possible mechanisms of disease as revealed by animal models.
PMCID: PMC4220844  PMID: 25327908
7.  A detailed analysis of next generation sequencing reads of microRNA expression in Barrett’s Esophagus: absolute versus relative quantification 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:212.
Next generation sequencing (NGS) is a state of the art technology for microRNA (miRNA) analysis. The quantitative interpretation of the primary output of NGS i.e. the read counts for a miRNA sequence that can vary by several orders of magnitude (1 to 107) remains incompletely understood.
NGS (SOLiD 3 technology) was performed on biopsies from 6 Barrett’s esophagus (BE) and 5 Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) patients. Read sequences were aligned to miRBase 18.0. Differential expression analysis was adjusted for false discovery rate of 5%. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was performed for 36 miRNA in a validation cohort of 47 patients (27 BE and 20 GERD). Correlation coefficients, accuracy, precision and recall of NGS compared to qRT-PCR were calculated. Increase in NGS reads was associated with progressively lower Cq values, p < 0.05. Although absolute quantification between NGS reads and Cq values correlated modestly: -0.38, p = 0.01 for BE and -0.32, p = 0.05 for GERD, relative quantification (fold changes) of miRNA expression between BE &GERD by NGS correlated highly with qRT-PCR 0.86, p = 2.45E-11. Fold change correlations were unaffected when different thresholds of NGS read counts were compared (>1000 vs. <1000, >500 vs. <500 and >100 vs. <100). The accuracy, precision and recall of NGS to label a miRNA as differentially expressed were 0.71, 0.88 and 0.74 respectively.
Absolute NGS reads correlated modestly with qRT-PCR but fold changes correlated highly. NGS is robust at relative but not absolute quantification of miRNA levels and accurate for high-throughput identification of differentially expressed miRNA.
PMCID: PMC3994199  PMID: 24708854
Next generation sequencing; MicroRNA; qRT-PCR; Correlation; Barrett’s esophagus
8.  Extracellular Vesicles in Luminal Fluid of the Ovine Uterus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90913.
Microvesicles and exosomes are nanoparticles released from cells and can contain small RNAs, mRNA and proteins that affect cells at distant sites. In sheep, endogenous beta retroviruses (enJSRVs) are expressed in the endometrial epithelia of the uterus and can be transferred to the conceptus trophectoderm. One potential mechanism of enJSRVs transfer from the uterus to the conceptus is via exosomes/microvesicles. Therefore, studies were conducted to evaluate exosomes in the uterine luminal fluid (ULF) of sheep. Exosomes/microvesicles (hereafter referred to as extracellular vesicles) were isolated from the ULF of day 14 cyclic and pregnant ewes using ExoQuick-TC. Transmission electron microscopy and nanoparticle tracking analysis found the isolates contained vesicles that ranged from 50 to 200 nm in diameter. The isolated extracellular vesicles were positive for two common markers of exosomes (CD63 and HSP70) by Western blot analysis. Proteins in the extracellular vesicles were determined by mass spectrometry and Western blot analysis. Extracellular vesicle RNA was analyzed for small RNAs by sequencing and enJSRVs RNA by RT-PCR. The ULF extracellular vesicles contained a large number of small RNAs and miRNAs including 81 conserved mature miRNAs. Cyclic and pregnant ULF extracellular vesicles contained enJSRVs env and gag RNAs that could be delivered to heterologous cells in vitro. These studies support the hypothesis that ULF extracellular vesicles can deliver enJSRVs RNA to the conceptus, which is important as enJSRVs regulate conceptus trophectoderm development. Importantly, these studies support the idea that extracellular vesicles containing select miRNAs, RNAs and proteins are present in the ULF and likely have a biological role in conceptus-endometrial interactions important for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3948691  PMID: 24614226
9.  Fer tyrosine kinase is required for germinal vesicle breakdown and meiosis-I in mouse oocytes 
The control of microtubule and actin mediated events that direct the physical arrangement and separation of chromosomes during meiosis is critical since failure to maintain chromosome organization can lead to germ cell aneuploidy. Our previous studies demonstrated a role for FYN tyrosine kinase in chromosome and spindle organization and cortical polarity of the mature mammalian oocyte. In addition to Fyn, mammalian oocytes express the protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) Fer at high levels relative to other tissues and the objective of the present study was to determine the function of this kinase in the oocyte. FER kinase protein was uniformly distributed in the ooplasm of small oocytes but became concentrated in the germinal vesicle during oocyte growth. After germinal vesicle breakdown, FER associated with the MI and MII spindles. Suppression of Fer expression by siRNA knockdown in germinal vesicle stage oocytes did not prevent activation of CDK1 activity or chromosome condensation during in vitro maturation, but did arrest oocytes prior to germinal vesicle breakdown or during MI. The resultant phenotype displayed condensed chromosomes trapped in the germinal vesicle, or condensed chromosomes poorly arranged in a metaphase plate but with an underdeveloped spindle microtubule structure or chromosomes compacted into a tight sphere. The results demonstrate that, FER kinase plays a critical role in oocyte meiotic spindle microtubule dynamics and may have an additional function in germinal vesicle breakdown.
PMCID: PMC3918464  PMID: 21268181
10.  Roles of microRNA-21 and PDCD-4 in the pathogenesis of human uterine leiomyomas 
Fertility and sterility  2012;98(3):726-734.e2.
To determine if programmed cell death 4 (PDCD-4) is altered in autologous leiomyoma and myometrial tissues and microRNA-21's (miR-21) role in PDCD-4 expression, apoptosis and translation.
Laboratory research.
Academic medical center.
Myometrial and leiomyoma tissues from patients with symptomatic leiomyomata.
Tissue analysis and miR-21 knockdown in cultured immortalized myometrial (UtM) and leiomyoma (UtLM) cells.
Main Outcome Measure(s)
MiR-21 and PDCD-4 mRNA and protein expression.
Leiomyoma tissues robustly expressed the full-length 51kDA isoform of PDCD-4, while normal myometrial tissue had negligible expression Consistent with autologous tissues, UtLM cells expressed elevated miR-21 and a similar pattern of PDCD-4 compared to UtM cells. Knockdown of miR-21 increased PDCD-4 levels in UtM cells and UtLM cells, indicating that it can regulate PDCD-4 expression. Loss of miR-21 also increased cleavage of caspase-3 (apoptosis marker) and increased phosphorylation of elongation factor -2 (marker of reduced translation) in both cell lines.
Elevated leiomyoma miR-21 levels are predicted to decrease PDCD-4 levels, thus leiomyomas differ from other tumors where loss of PDCD-4 is associated with tumor progression. Our studies indicate regulation of PDCD-4 expression is not a primary miR-21 function in leiomyomas, but instead miR-21 is able to impact cellular apoptosis and translation, through unknown targets, in a manner consistent with its involvement in the pathophysiology of uterine fibroids.
PMCID: PMC3432744  PMID: 22728051
microRNA; uterine fibroids; leiomyoma; PDCD-4; miR-21
11.  Discovery and Validation of Barrett's Esophagus MicroRNA Transcriptome by Next Generation Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54240.
Barrett's esophagus (BE) is transition from squamous to columnar mucosa as a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The role of microRNA during this transition has not been systematically studied.
For initial screening, total RNA from 5 GERD and 6 BE patients was size fractionated. RNA <70 nucleotides was subjected to SOLiD 3 library preparation and next generation sequencing (NGS). Bioinformatics analysis was performed using R package “DEseq”. A p value<0.05 adjusted for a false discovery rate of 5% was considered significant. NGS-identified miRNA were validated using qRT-PCR in an independent group of 40 GERD and 27 BE patients. MicroRNA expression of human BE tissues was also compared with three BE cell lines.
NGS detected 19.6 million raw reads per sample. 53.1% of filtered reads mapped to miRBase version 18. NGS analysis followed by qRT-PCR validation found 10 differentially expressed miRNA; several are novel (-708-5p, -944, -224-5p and -3065-5p). Up- or down- regulation predicted by NGS was matched by qRT-PCR in every case. Human BE tissues and BE cell lines showed a high degree of concordance (70–80%) in miRNA expression. Prediction analysis identified targets that mapped to developmental signaling pathways such as TGFβ and Notch and inflammatory pathways such as toll-like receptor signaling and TGFβ. Cluster analysis found similarly regulated (up or down) miRNA to share common targets suggesting coordination between miRNA.
Using highly sensitive next-generation sequencing, we have performed a comprehensive genome wide analysis of microRNA in BE and GERD patients. Differentially expressed miRNA between BE and GERD have been further validated. Expression of miRNA between BE human tissues and BE cell lines are highly correlated. These miRNA should be studied in biological models to further understand BE development.
PMCID: PMC3553128  PMID: 23372692
12.  A synonymous variant in scavenger receptor, class b, type i gene is associated with lower sr-bi protein expression and function 
Atherosclerosis  2009;210(1):177-182.
A synonymous variant within scavenger receptor class B type I gene (SCARB1), exon 8 rs5888, has been associated with altered lipid levels and cardiovascular risk in humans. The objective was to determine if rs5888 decreased SR-BI protein expression and function in vitro.
SR-BI RNA secondary structure, turnover, polysomal distribution and protein expression were examined in COS cells transfected with wild-type or rs5888-SR-BI plasmids by selective 2’-hydroxyl acylation and primer extension assays, actinomycin D inhibition, polysomal profiling, and western blotting. SR-BI function in murine macrophages stably expressing wild-type or rs5888-SR-BI was assessed by measuring the specific cell association of 125I,3H-cholesteryl ester (CE) radiolabeled HDL.
Rs5888 changed RNA secondary structure and led to marked differences in the polysomal profiles compared with wild-type transcript (p<0.02). As compared to wild-type cells, COS cells expressing rs5888 had significantly lower SR-BI protein expression (p<0.04), but no difference in total RNA transcript levels. There were no differences in SR-BI RNA turnover in murine macrophages, whereas specific cell association of 125I (p<0.0001) or 3H-CE (p<0.00001) was significantly lower in rs5888 cells.
The rs5888 variant affected SR-BI RNA secondary structure, protein translation, and was significantly associated with reduced SR-BI protein expression and function in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3342769  PMID: 20060115
SCARB1; SR-BI; HDL; atherosclerosis; synonymous; SNPs
13.  MicroRNA 21 Blocks Apoptosis in Mouse Periovulatory Granulosa Cells1 
Biology of Reproduction  2010;83(2):286-295.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in many developmental processes, including cell differentiation and apoptosis. Transition of proliferative ovarian granulosa cells to terminally differentiated luteal cells in response to the ovulatory surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) involves rapid and pronounced changes in cellular morphology and function. MicroRNA 21 (miR-21, official symbol Mir21) is one of three highly LH-induced miRNAs in murine granulosa cells, and here we examine the function and temporal expression of Mir21 within granulosa cells as they transition to luteal cells. Granulosa cells were transfected with blocking (2′-O-methyl) and locked nucleic acid (LNA-21) oligonucleotides, and mature Mir21 expression decreased to one ninth and one twenty-seventh of its basal expression, respectively. LNA-21 depletion of Mir21 activity in cultured granulosa cells induced apoptosis. In vivo, follicular granulosa cells exhibit a decrease in cleaved caspase 3, a hallmark of apoptosis, 6 h after the LH/human chorionic gonadotropin surge, coincident with the highest expression of mature Mir21. To examine whether Mir21 is involved in regulation of apoptosis in vivo, mice were treated with a phospho thioate-modified LNA-21 oligonucleotide, and granulosa cell apoptosis was examined. Apoptosis increased in LNA-21-treated ovaries, and ovulation rate decreased in LNA-21-treated ovaries, compared with their contralateral controls. We have examined a number of Mir21 apoptotic target transcripts identified in other systems; currently, none of these appear to play a role in the induction of ovarian granulosa cell apoptosis. This study is the first to implicate the antiapoptotic Mir21 (an oncogenic miRNA) as playing a clear physiologic role in normal tissue function.
In vivo and in vitro loss of microRNA 21, an LH-induced microRNA, results in mouse granulosa cell apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2907287  PMID: 20357270
apoptosis,; granulosa cells,; luteinizing hormone,; microRNA,; ovary
14.  Role of Dicer in Female Fertility 
Dicer is an RNAse III endonuclease that is essential for the biogenesis of microRNAs and small interfering RNAs. These small RNAs post-transcriptionally regulate mRNA gene expression through several mechanisms to affect key cellular events including proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Recently, the role of Dicer function in female reproductive tissues has begun to be elucidated through the use of knock-out mouse models. Loss of Dicer within ovarian granulosa cells, luteal tissue, oocyte, oviduct, and potentially the uterus render females infertile. This review discusses these early studies and other data describing the current understanding of microRNAs and small interfering RNAs in female reproduction.
PMCID: PMC3121329  PMID: 19646895
15.  Rapid Effects of Luteinizing Hormone on Gene Expression in the Mural Granulosa Cells of Mouse Periovulatory Follicles 
Reproduction (Cambridge, England)  2009;137(5):843-855.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) acts on periovulatory granulosa cells by activating the PKA pathway as well as other cell signaling cascades to increase the transcription of specific genes necessary for ovulation and luteinization. Collectively, these cell signaling responses occur rapidly (within minutes), however, presently no high throughput studies have reported changes before 4 h after the LH surge. To identify early response genes that are likely critical for initiation of ovulation and luteinization, mouse granulosa cells were collected before and 1 h after hCG. Fifty-seven gene transcripts were significantly (p<0.05) upregulated and 3 downregulated following hCG. Twenty-four of these transcripts were known to be expressed after the LH/hCG surge at later time points, while 36 were unknown to be expressed by periovulatory granulosa cells. Temporal expression of several transcripts, including the transcription factors Nr4a1, Nr4a2, Egr1, Egr2, Btg1, and Btg2, and the EGF-like ligands Areg and Ereg, were analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR, and their putative roles in granulosa cell function are discussed. Epigen (Epgn), another member of the family of EGF-like ligands, was identified for the first time in granulosa cells as rapidly induced by LH/hCG. We demonstrate that Epgn initiates cumulus expansion, similar to the other EGF-receptor ligands Areg and Ereg. These studies illustrate that a number of changes in gene expression occur in vivo in response to LH, and that many of the differentially expressed genes are transcription factors that we would predict in turn modulate granulosa cell gene expression to ultimately impact the processes of ovulation and luteinization.
PMCID: PMC3118672  PMID: 19225042
granulosa cells; luteinizing hormone; ovulation; corpus luteum
16.  Mammalian oocytes are targets for prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) action 
The ovulatory gonadotropin surge increases synthesis of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) by the periovulatory follicle. PGE2 actions on granulosa cells are essential for successful ovulation. The aim of the present study is to determine if PGE2 also acts directly at the oocyte to regulate periovulatory events.
Oocytes were obtained from monkeys and mice after ovarian follicular stimulation and assessed for PGE2 receptor mRNA and proteins. Oocytes were cultured with vehicle or PGE2 and assessed for cAMP generation, resumption of meiosis, and in vitro fertilization.
Germinal vesicle intact (GV) oocytes from both monkeys and mice expressed mRNA for the PGE2 receptors EP2, EP3, and EP4. EP2 and EP4 proteins were detected by confocal microscopy in oocytes of both species. Monkey and mouse oocytes responded to PGE2 as well as agonists selective for EP2 and EP4 receptors with elevated cAMP, consistent with previous identification of EP2 and EP4 as Gαs/adenylyl cyclase coupled receptors. Incubation of mouse GV stage oocytes with PGE2 delayed oocyte nuclear maturation in vitro, but PGE2 treatment did not alter the percentage of mouse oocytes that fertilized successfully. PGE2 treatment also decreased the percentage of monkey oocytes that resumed meiosis in vitro. In contrast with mouse oocytes, the percentage of monkey oocytes which fertilized in vitro was lower after treatment with PGE2. Monkey oocytes with intact cumulus showed delayed nuclear maturation, but fertilization rate was not affected by PGE2 treatment.
Monkey and mouse oocytes express functional PGE2 receptors. PGE2 acts directly at mammalian oocytes to delay nuclear maturation. Surrounding cumulus cells modulate the effect of PGE2 to alter subsequent fertilization.
PMCID: PMC2988801  PMID: 21040553
17.  Hormonal Regulation of MicroRNA Expression in Periovulatory Mouse Mural Granulosa Cells1 
Biology of Reproduction  2008;79(6):1030-1037.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) mediate posttranscriptional gene regulation by binding to the 3′ untranslated region of messenger RNAs to either inhibit or enhance translation. The extent and hormonal regulation of miRNA expression by ovarian granulosa cells and their role in ovulation and luteinization is unknown. In the present study, miRNA array analysis was used to identify 212 mature miRNAs as expressed and 13 as differentially expressed in periovulatory granulosa cells collected before and after an ovulatory dose of hCG. Two miRNAs, Mirn132 and Mirn212 (also known as miR-132 and miR-212), were found to be highly upregulated following LH/hCG induction and were further analyzed. In vivo and in vitro temporal expression analysis by quantitative RT-PCR confirmed that LH/hCG and cAMP, respectively, increased transcription of the precursor transcript as well as the mature miRNAs. Locked nucleic acid oligonucleotides complementary to Mirn132 and Mirn212 were shown to block cAMP-mediated mature miRNA expression and function. Computational analyses indicated that 77 putative mRNA targets of Mirn132 and Mirn212 were expressed in ovarian granulosa cells. Furthermore, upon knockdown of Mirn132 and Mirn212, a known target of Mirn132, C-terminal binding protein 1, showed decreased protein levels but no change in mRNA levels. The following studies are the first to describe the extent of miRNA expression within ovarian granulosa cells and the first to demonstrate that LH/hCG regulates the expression of select miRNAs, which affect posttranscriptional gene regulation within these cells.
The ovulatory surge of luteinizing hormone induces the expression of microRNAs, which posttranscriptionally regulate the expression of a regulatory protein within mural granulosa cells of the periovulatory follicle.
PMCID: PMC2780477  PMID: 18716288
corpus luteum; granulosa cells; luteinizing hormone; microRNA; ovulation
18.  GPRC6A Null Mice Exhibit Osteopenia, Feminization and Metabolic Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3858.
GPRC6A is a widely expressed orphan G-protein coupled receptor that senses extracellular amino acids, osteocalcin and divalent cations in vitro. The physiological functions of GPRC6A are unknown.
Methods/Principal Findings
In this study, we created and characterized the phenotype of GPRC6A−/− mice. We observed complex metabolic abnormalities in GPRC6A−/− mice involving multiple organ systems that express GPRC6A, including bone, kidney, testes, and liver. GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited hepatic steatosis, hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. In addition, we observed high expression of GPRC6A in Leydig cells in the testis. Ablation of GPRC6A resulted in feminization of male GPRC6A−/− mice in association with decreased lean body mass, increased fat mass, increased circulating levels of estradiol, and reduced levels of testosterone. GPRC6A was also highly expressed in kidney proximal and distal tubules, and GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited increments in urine Ca/Cr and PO4/Cr ratios as well as low molecular weight proteinuria. Finally, GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) in association with impaired mineralization of bone.
GPRC6A−/− mice have a metabolic syndrome characterized by defective osteoblast-mediated bone mineralization, abnormal renal handling of calcium and phosphorus, fatty liver, glucose intolerance and disordered steroidogenesis. These findings suggest the overall function of GPRC6A may be to coordinate the anabolic responses of multiple tissues through the sensing of extracellular amino acids, osteocalcin and divalent cations.
PMCID: PMC2585477  PMID: 19050760
19.  The Cebpd (C/EBPδ) Gene Is Induced by Luteinizing Hormones in Ovarian Theca and Interstitial Cells But Is Not Essential for Mouse Ovary Function 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(12):e1334.
The CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (CEBP) family of transcription factors includes five genes. In the ovary, both Cebpa and Cebpb are essential for granulosa cell function. In this study we have explored the role of the Cebpd gene in ovarian physiology by expression and functional studies. Here we report that Cebpd (C/EBPδ) is expressed in the mouse ovary in a highly restricted temporal and spatial pattern. In response to luteinizing hormone (LH/hCG), CEBPD expression is transiently induced in interstitial cells and in theca cells of follicles from the primary to pre-ovulatory stage, and overlaps in part with expression of the alpha-smooth muscle actin protein. Efficient down-regulation of CEBPD was dependent on a functional Cebpb gene. Proliferating human theca cells in culture also express Cebpd. Cells from patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) exhibited higher Cebpd expression levels. However, deletion of Cebpd in mice had no overt effect on ovarian physiology and reproductive function. Very little is known at present about the molecular mechanisms underlying theca/interstitial cell functions. The expression pattern of CEBPD reported here identifies a novel functional unit of mouse theca cells of primary through tertiary follicles responding to LH/hCG together with a subset of interstitial cells. This acute stimulation of CEBPD expression may be exploited to further characterize the hormonal regulation and function of theca and interstitial cells.
PMCID: PMC2129115  PMID: 18092000
20.  Cholesterol transport and steroidogenesis by the corpus luteum 
The synthesis of progesterone by the corpus luteum is essential for the establishment and maintenance of early pregnancy. Regulation of luteal steroidogenesis can be broken down into three major events; luteinization (i.e., conversion of an ovulatory follicle), luteal regression, and pregnancy induced luteal maintenance/rescue. While the factors that control these events and dictate the final steroid end products are widely varied among different species, the composition of the corpus luteum (luteinized thecal and granulosa cells) and the enzymes and proteins involved in the steroidogenic pathway are relatively similar among all species. The key factors involved in luteal steroidogenesis and several new exciting observations regarding regulation of luteal steroidogenic function are discussed in this review.
PMCID: PMC280730  PMID: 14613534

Results 1-20 (20)