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Paula F Lima, Cinthia M Ormond, Ester S Caixeta, Rodrigo G Barros, Christopher A Price, and José Buratini

In vitro maturation (IVM) of oocytes in cattle is inefficient, and there is great interest in the development of approaches to improve maturation and fertilization rates. Intraovarian signalling molecules are being explored as potential additives to IVM media. One such factor is kit ligand (KITL), which stimulates the growth of oocytes. We determined if KITL enhances oocyte maturation in cattle. The two main isoforms of KITL (KITL1 and KITL2) were expressed in bovine cumulus–oocyte complexes (COC), and levels of mRNA increased during FSH-stimulated IVM. The addition of KITL to the culture medium increased the percentage of oocytes that reached meiosis II but did not affect cumulus expansion after 22 h of IVM. Addition of KITL reduced the levels of mRNA encoding natriuretic peptide precursor C (NPPC), a protein that holds oocytes in meiotic arrest, and increased the levels of mRNA encoding YBX2, an oocyte-specific factor involved in meiosis. Removal of the oocyte from the COC resulted in increased KITL mRNA levels and decreased NPPC mRNA levels in cumulus cells, and addition of denuded oocytes reversed these effects. Taken together, our results suggest that KITL enhances bovine oocyte nuclear maturation through a mechanism that involves NPPC, and that the oocyte regulates cumulus expression of KITL mRNA.

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Ester S Caixeta, Melanie L Sutton-McDowall, Robert B Gilchrist, Jeremy G Thompson, Christopher A Price, Mariana F Machado, Paula F Lima, and José Buratini

Oocyte-secreted factors (OSFs) regulate differentiation of cumulus cells and are of pivotal relevance for fertility. Bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) and fibroblast growth factor 10 (FGF10) are OSFs and enhance oocyte competence by unknown mechanisms. We tested the hypothesis that BMP15 and FGF10, alone or combined in the maturation medium, enhance cumulus expansion and expression of genes in the preovulatory cascade and regulate glucose metabolism favouring hyaluronic acid production in bovine cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs). BMP15 or FGF10 increased the percentage of fully expanded COCs, but the combination did not further stimulate it. BMP15 increased cumulus cell levels of mRNA encoding a disintegrin and metalloprotease 10 (ADAM10), ADAM17, amphiregulin (AREG), and epiregulin (EREG) at 12 h of culture and of prostaglandin (PG)-endoperoxide synthase 2 (PTGS2), pentraxin 3 (PTX3) and tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 6 (TNFAIP6 (TSG6)) at 22 h of culture. FGF10 did not alter the expression of epidermal growth factor-like factors but enhanced the mRNA expression of PTGS2 at 4 h, PTX3 at 12 h, and TNFAIP6 at 22 h. FGF10 and BMP15 stimulated glucose consumption by cumulus cells but did not affect lactate production or levels of mRNA encoding glycolytic enzymes phosphofructokinase and lactate dehydrogenase A. Each growth factor increased mRNA encoding glucosamine:fructose-6-PO4 transaminases, key enzymes in the hexosamine pathway leading to hyaluronic acid production, and BMP15 also stimulated hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2) mRNA expression. This study provides evidence that BMP15 and FGF10 stimulate expansion of in vitro-matured bovine COCs by driving glucose metabolism toward hyaluronic acid production and controlling the expression of genes in the ovulatory cascade, the first acting upon ADAM10, ADAM17, AREG, and EREG and the second on downstream genes, particularly PTGS2.