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Xin Huang, Chang Liu, Cuifang Hao, Qianqing Tang, Riming Liu, Shaoxia Lin, Luping Zhang, and Wei Yan


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine and metabolic disorder in women and is characterised by polycystic ovaries, hyperandrogenism and chronic anovulation. Although the clinical and biochemical signs of PCOS are typically heterogeneous, abnormal folliculogenesis is considered a common characteristic of PCOS. Our aim is to identify the altered miRNA and mRNA expression profiles in the cumulus cells of PCOS patients to investigate their molecular function in the aetiology and pathophysiology of PCOS. In this study, the miRNA expression profiles of the cumulus cell samples isolated from five PCOS and five control patients were determined by an miRNA microarray. At the same time, the altered mRNA profiles of the same cumulus cell samples were also identified by a cDNA microarray. From the microarray data, 17 miRNAs and 1263 mRNAs showed significantly different expression in the PCOS cumulus cells. The differentially expressed miRNA-509-3p and its potential target gene (MAP3K8) were identified from the miRNA and mRNA microarrays respectively. The expression of miRNA-509-3p was up-regulated and MAP3K8 was down-regulated in the PCOS cumulus cells. The direct interaction between miRNA-509-3p and MAP3K8 was confirmed by a luciferase activity assay in KGN cells. In addition, miRNA-509-3p mimics or inhibitor transfection tests in KGN cells further confirmed that miRNA-509-3p improved oestradiol (E2) secretion by inhibiting the expression of MAP3K8. These results help to characterise the pathogenesis of anovulation in PCOS, especially the regulation of E2 production.

Free access

Shijia Ying, Ziyu Wang, Changlong Wang, Haitao Nie, Dongyang He, Ruoxin Jia, Yongcong Wu, Yongjie Wan, Zhengrong Zhou, Yibo Yan, Yanli Zhang, and Feng Wang

This study investigated the effects of short-term food restriction or supplementation on folliculogenesis and plasma and intrafollicular metabolite and hormone concentrations. Ewes were randomly assigned to three groups: the control group received a maintenance diet (M) while the supplemented group and restricted group received 1.5×M and 0.5×M respectively on days 6–12 of their estrous cycle. Estrus was synchronized by intravaginal progestogen sponges for 12 days. On days 7–12, blood samples were taken. After slaughter, the ovarian follicles were classified and the follicular fluid was collected. Compared with restriction, supplementation shortened the estrous cycle length, decreased the number of follicles 2.5–3.5 mm and follicular fluid estradiol (E2) concentration, increased the number of follicles >3.5 mm and plasma glucose, insulin and glucagon concentrations, and augmented the volume of follicles >2.5 mm. Restricted ewes had higher intrafollicular insulin concentration, but it was similar to that of supplemented ewes. Compared with follicles ≤2.5 mm, the intrafollicular glucose and E2 concentrations were increased and the testosterone, insulin, and glucagon concentrations and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity were decreased in follicles >2.5 mm. Only in restricted ewes were intrafollicular LDH and testosterone concentrations in follicles ≤2.5 mm not different from those in follicles ≤2.5 mm. In conclusion, the mechanism by which short-term dietary restriction inhibits folliculogenesis may involve responses to intrafollicular increased E2, testosterone, and LDH levels in late-stage follicles. This may not be due to the variation of intrafollicular insulin level but rather due to decreased circulating levels of glucose, insulin, and glucagon.

Free access

Naihong Yan, Yilu Lu, Huaqin Sun, Dachang Tao, Sizhong Zhang, Wenying Liu, and Yongxin Ma

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA molecules playing regulatory roles by repressing translation or cleaving RNA transcripts. Recent studies indicate that miRNAs are mechanistically involved in the development of mammalian spermatogenesis. However, little work has been done to compare the miRNA expression patterns between immature and mature mouse testes. Here, we employed a miRNA microarray to detect 892 miRNAs in order to evaluate the expression patterns of miRNA. The expression of 19 miRNAs was significantly different between immature and mature individuals. Fourteen miRNAs were significantly upregulated and five miRNAs were downregulated in immature mice and this result was further confirmed by a quantitative real-time RT-PCR assay. Many target genes involved in spermatogenesis are predicted by MiRscan performing miRNA target scanning. Our data indicated specific miRNAs expression in immature mouse testis and suggested that miRNAs have a role in regulating spermatogenesis.

Free access

Qian Chen, Yong Fan, Xiaowei Zhou, Zheng Yan, Yanping Kuang, Aijun Zhang, and Chen Xu

Some studies have demonstrated that the implantation rate of fresh transfer cycles is lower in the gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist (GnRH-ant) protocol than in the GnRH agonist (GnRH-a) protocol during in vitro fertilization (IVF). This effect may be related to endometrial receptivity. However, the mechanisms are unclear. Here, endometrial tissues obtained from the mid-secretory phase of patients treated with GnRH-a or GnRH-ant protocols and from patients on their natural cycle were assessed. Endometrial expression of B-type creatine kinase (CKB), which plays important roles in the implantation phase, was significantly reduced in the GnRH-ant group. At the same time, expression of the endometrial receptivity marker HOXA10 was considerably reduced in the GnRH-ant group. GnRH-ant exposure in endometrial epithelial cells (EECs) in vitro decreased CKB expression and ATP generation and blocked polymerization of actin. Furthermore, in vitro GnRH-ant-exposed Ishikawa cells showed enhanced F-actin depolymerization, and these effects were rescued by CKB overexpression. Similar effects were observed after CKB knockdown, and these effects were rescued by CKB overexpression. Moreover, cell migration was decreased in CKB-knockdown Ishikawa cells compared with that in control cells, and this effect was also rescued by CKB overexpression. Overall, these findings showed that GnRH-ant affected CKB expression in EECs, resulting in cytoskeletal damage and migration failure. These results provide insight into the roles and molecular mechanisms of GnRH-ant treatment in the endometrium.

Open access

Huijuan Liao, Yan Chen, Yulong Li, Shaolong Xue, Mingfeng Liu, Ziyuan Lin, Yanyan Liu, Hsiao Chang Chan, Xiaohu Zhang, and Huaqin Sun

Mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene affect fertility in both sexes. However, the involvement of CFTR in regulating germ cell development remains largely unknown. Here, we used zebrafish model to investigate the role of CFTR in primordial germ cells (PGCs) development. We generated a cftr frameshift mutant zebrafish line using CRISPR/Cas9 technique and investigated the migration of PGCs during early embryo development. Our results showed that loss of Cftr impairs the migration of PGCs from dome stages onward. The migration of PGCs was also perturbed by treatment of CFTRinh-172, a gating-specific CFTR channel inhibitor. Moreover, defected PGCs migration in cftr mutant embryos can be partially rescued by injection of WT but not other channel-defective mutant cftr mRNAs. Finally, we observed the elevation of cxcr4b, cxcl12a, rgs14a and ca15b, key factors involved in zebrafish PGCs migration, in cftr-mutant zebrafish embryos. Taken together, the present study revealed an important role of CFTR acting as an ion channel in regulating PGCs migration during early embryogenesis. Defect of which may impair germ cell development through elevation of key factors involved in cell motility and response to chemotactic gradient in PGCs.

Free access

Yan Xu, Miao Liu, Yi-hua Gu, Xiao-feng Jia, Yong-Mei Chen, Michelle Santos, Ai-Zhen Wu, Xiao-dong Zhang, Hui-Juan Shi, and Ching-Ling C Chen

With tetraspanning topology, members of the membrane-spanning four-domain subfamily A (MS4A) may facilitate signaling or ion channel functions in many tissues. In this study, we report the cloning of a full-length cDNA from rat testis, designated Ms4a14 (Sp3111), which encodes the MS4A protein with 1139 amino acid residues. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analyses indicate that Ms4a14 is predominantly expressed from round spermatids to spermatozoa at specific stages in the rat testis at both the mRNA and protein level. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed that MS4A14 (SP3111) is located in the acrosome and the midpiece of the flagellum in mature sperm. Previously, we explored and reported the involvement of MS4A14 in reproductive functions, using antibody blockage during IVF and a transgenic RNA interference method in a mouse model. Our results suggested that MS4A14 is involved in fertilization and zygote division. As MS4A14 protein exists in mammals, such as humans, cows, dogs, and rodents, MS4A14 may play a ubiquitous role in mammalian reproduction.

Free access

Shu-Zhen Liu, Li-Juan Yao, Man-Xi Jiang, Zi-Li Lei, Li-Sheng Zhang, Yan-Ling Zhang, Qing-Yuan Sun, Yue-Liang Zheng, Xiang-Fen Song, and Da-Yuan Chen

In this study, we investigated the development, the cell number of the blastocyst, and apoptosis in rabbit nuclear transfer (NT) embryos derived from adult fibroblasts and cumulus cells as compared with embryos derived from in vivo fertilization and in vitro culture. The developmental rate and the total cell number of the blastocyst were significantly lower in NT embryos than in fertilized embryos (FEs). The type of donor cells did not affect the embryonic developmental rate and the total cell number of blastocysts in NT groups. The present study investigated the onset and the frequency of apoptosis in NT embryos and FEs by using a terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick and labeling (TUNEL) assay. The earliest positive TUNEL signals were detected at the eight-cell stage in NT embryos and at the morula stage in FEs. The apoptotic index of the total blastocysts, the inner cell mass and the trophoderm was greatly higher in the NT embryos than in FEs. Moreover, the apoptotic index of the blastocyst from fibroblasts was significantly higher than that of the blastocyst from cumulus cells.

Free access

Cheng Jin, Yan Zhang, Zhi-Peng Wang, Xiu-Xia Wang, Tie-Cheng Sun, Xiao-Yu Li, Ji-Xin Tang, Jin-Mei Cheng, Jian Li, Su-Ren Chen, Shou-Long Deng, and Yi-Xun Liu

Spermatogenesis is crucial for male fertility and is therefore tightly controlled by a variety of epigenetic regulators. However, the function of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) in spermatogenesis and the molecular mechanisms underlying its activity remain poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that deleting EZH2 promoted spermatogonial differentiation and apoptosis. EZH2 is expressed in spermatogonia, spermatocytes and round and elongated spermatids from stage 9 to 11 but not in leptotene and zygotene spermatocytes. Knocking down Ezh2 in vitro using a lentivirus impaired self-renewal in spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), and the conditional knockout of Ezh2 in spermatogonial progenitors promoted precocious spermatogonial differentiation. EZH2 functions to balance self-renewal and differentiation in spermatogonia by suppressing NEUROG3 and KIT via a direct interaction that is independent of its histone methyltransferase activity. Moreover, deleting Ezh2 enhanced the activation of CASP3 in spermatids, resulting in reduced spermatozoa production. Collectively, these data demonstrate that EZH2 plays a nonclassical role in the regulation of spermatogonial differentiation and apoptosis in murine spermatogenesis.

Free access

Jun Shao, Bing Zhang, Jia-Jun Yu, Chun-Yan Wei, Wen-Jie Zhou, Kai-Kai Chang, Hui-Li Yang, Li-Ping Jin, Xiao-Yong Zhu, and Ming-Qing Li

Macrophages play an important role in the origin and development of endometriosis. Estrogen promoted the growth of decidual stromal cells (DSCs) by downregulating the level of interleukin (IL)-24. The aim of this study was to clarify the role and mechanism of IL-24 and its receptors in the regulation of biological functions of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) during endometriosis. The level of IL-24 and its receptors in endometrium was measured by immunohistochemistry. In vitro analysis was used to measure the level of IL-24 and receptors and the biological behaviors of ESCs. Here, we found that the expression of IL-24 and its receptors (IL-20R1 and IL-20R2) in control endometrium was significantly higher than that in eutopic and ectopic endometrium of women with endometriosis. Recombinant human IL-24 (rhIL-24) significantly inhibited the viability of ESCs in a dosage-dependent manner. Conversely, blocking IL-24 with anti-IL-24 neutralizing antibody promoted ESCs viability. In addition, rhIL-24 could downregulate the invasiveness of ESCs in vitro. After co-culture, macrophages markedly reduced the expression of IL-24 and IL-20R1 in ESCs, but not IL-22R1. Moreover, macrophages significantly restricted the inhibitory effect of IL-24 on the viability, invasion, the proliferation relative gene Ki-67, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and cyclooxygenase2 (COX-2), and the stimulatory effect on the tumor metastasis suppressor gene CD82 in ESCs. These results indicate that the abnormally low level of IL-24 in ESCs possibly induced by macrophages may lead to the enhancement of ESCs’ proliferation and invasiveness and contribute to the development of endometriosis.

Free access

Rui-Song Ye, Meng Li, Chao-Yun Li, Qi-En Qi, Ting Chen, Xiao Cheng, Song-Bo Wang, Gang Shu, Li-Na Wang, Xiao-Tong Zhu, Qing-Yan Jiang, Qian-Yun Xi, and Yong-Liang Zhang

FSH plays an essential role in processes involved in human reproduction, including spermatogenesis and the ovarian cycle. While the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms underlying its synthesis and secretion have been extensively studied, little is known about its posttranscriptional regulation. A bioinformatics analysis from our group indicated that a microRNA (miRNA; miR-361-3p) could regulate FSH secretion by potentially targeting the FSHB subunit. Herein, we sought to confirm these findings by investigating the miR-361-3p-mediated regulation of FSH production in primary pig anterior pituitary cells. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) treatment resulted in an increase in FSHB synthesis at both the mRNA, protein/hormone level, along with a significant decrease in miR-361-3p and its precursor (pre-miR-361) levels in time- and dose-dependent manner. Using the Dual-Luciferase Assay, we confirmed that miR-361-3p directly targets FSHB. Additionally, overexpression of miR-361-3p using mimics significantly decreased the FSHB production at both the mRNA and protein levels, with a reduction in both protein synthesis and secretion. Conversely, both synthesis and secretion were significantly increased following miR-361-3p blockade. To confirm that miR-361-3p targets FSHB, we designed FSH-targeted siRNAs, and co-transfected anterior pituitary cells with both the siRNA and miR-361-3p inhibitors. Our results indicated that the siRNA blocked the miR-361-3p inhibitor-mediated upregulation of FSH, while no significant effect on non-target expression. Taken together, our results demonstrate that miR-361-3p negatively regulates FSH synthesis and secretion by targeting FSHB, which provides more functional evidence that a miRNA is involved in the direct regulation of FSH.