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Adrian Guzmán, Camilla H.k. Hughes, and Bruce D. Murphy

Orphan nuclear receptors (ONRs) are a subset of the nuclear receptor family that lack known endogenous ligands. Among 48 nuclear receptors identified in humans, 25 are classified as ONRs. They function as transcription factors and control expression of a wide range of genes to regulate metabolism, fertility, immunity, angiogenesis, and many other functions. Angiogenic factors are essential during ovarian follicle development, including follicle growth and ovulation,. Correct development of blood vessels contributes to preantral and antral follicular development, selection of the dominant follicle or follicles, follicular atresia, and ovulation. Although progress has been made in understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate follicular angiogenesis, the role of ONRs as regulators is not clear. Based on their functions in other tissues, the ONRs NR1D1 (REV-ERBß), NR2C2 (TR4), NR2F2 (COUP-TF-II) and NR3B1, 2, and 3 (ERRα, ERRß and ERRγ) may modulate angiogenesis during antral follicle development. We hypothesize that this is achieved by effects on the expression and function of VEGFA, ANGPT1, THBS1, and soluble VEGFR1. Further, angiogenesis during ovulation is expected to be influenced by ONRs. NR5A2 (LRH-1), which is required for ovulation, regulates angiogenic genes in the ovary, including VEGFA and the upstream regulator of angiogenesis, PGE2. These angiogenic molecules may also be regulated by NR5A1 (SF-1). Evidence from outside the reproductive tract suggests that NR2F2 and NR4A1(NUR77) promote VEGFC and PGF respectively and NR4As (ΝUR77, NOR1) seem to be necessary for the angiogenic effects of VEGFA and PGE2. Together, the data suggest that ONRs are important regulators of follicular angiogenesis.