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Takayuki Takahashi, Akane Hagiwara and Katsueki Ogiwara

Ovulation, which is induced by the ovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, is a dynamic process that results in a discharge of one or more fertilizable oocytes from the ovarian follicle into the ovarian cavity or into the abdominal cavity. Follicle rupture is a core event of the ovulatory process and has been the subject of intensive investigation. Many studies have been performed in various vertebrate animals that focused on proteolysis during ovulation. Despite much effort, the proteases responsible for follicle rupture in ovulation have not yet been identified for mammalian species. However, studies conducted using the teleost medaka have recently provided valuable information about the follicle rupture process. Follicle rupture during medaka ovulation is accomplished by a two-step extracellular matrix (ECM) hydrolysis mechanism involving two distinct protease systems, the urokinase-type plasminogen activator-1 /plasmin and the matrix metalloproteinase system. In the 24-h spawning cycle of the fish, the former protease system is activated first, and the latter subsequently becomes active. Proteolytic activities of these systems are regulated by their intrinsic inhibitors. The endocrine regulation of the rupture was examined by investigating the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 15 (Mmp15), which is the only LH-inducible protease among those involved in the rupture process. At least two transcription factors, classical nuclear progestin receptor and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein β, play critical roles in the expression of the protease transcript. This review also summarizes studies addressing follicle rupture during ovulation conducted using other teleost models to understand the current status of teleost ovulation studies.