Selection of the luteinizing hormone (LH) response to exogenous gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in sheep has resulted in the establishment of two lines (High and Low) with a fivefold difference in pituitary sensitivity to GnRH. The effect of selection on gonadotrophin gene expression in the presence or absence of an exogenous gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) challenge in twenty-week-old ram lambs from both lines was examined. Before treatment with either GnRH or saline, LH and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) concentrations were significantly higher in the High line than in the Low line animals (LH and FSH: P < 0.01). One hour after either GnRH or saline, all animals were slaughtered. In the absence of a GnRH challenge, there were significantly higher concentrations of all three gonadotrophin subunit mRNAs in the High line compared with the Low line, corresponding to the higher basal concentrations of LH and FSH. When comparing treatments between the lines, following a GnRH challenge, LHβ subunit mRNA was significantly (P < 0.001) higher in both lines than before the GnRH, whereas there was no significant change in either α or FSHβ subunit mRNA. These results indicate that the differences in basal gonadotrophin secretion are related to differences in gonadotrophin subunit mRNAs with the High line animals having an inherently greater amount of all three gonadotrophin subunit mRNAs. Selection has not altered the differential amounts of gonadotrophin subunit mRNAs, since there is an overall increase in all three gonadotrophin subunits. GnRH appears to preferentially control LHβ mRNA in both High and Low line animals.
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