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Xiaofeng Zheng, Derek Boerboom and Paul D Carrière

We have previously shown that TGFB1 inhibits estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) biosynthesis in FSH-stimulated bovine granulosa cells by selective inhibition of steroidogenic enzymes. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of TGFB1 on E2 and P4 steroidogenesis in bovine granulosa cells cultured in the absence of FSH and to measure the effects of TGFB1 on cell proliferation and apoptosis in the presence and absence of FSH. Bovine granulosa cells from 2 to 5 mm follicles were cultured in serum-free medium for 2–6 days. In the absence of FSH, the secretion of P4 increased with time in culture (P<0.05). Addition of TGFB1 for 6 days decreased P4 secretion and mRNA levels of the P4 synthesis-associated genes STAR, CYP11A1, HSD3B1, and GSTA (P<0.05). In the absence of FSH, the secretion of E2 decreased and addition of TGFB1 for 6 days partially reversed this decline and stimulated E2 biosynthesis, CYP19A1 and HSD17B1 mRNA levels and CYP19A1 activity (P<0.05). Conversely, TGFB1 did not affect HSD17B7 expression and HSD17B-reducing activity. TGFB1 decreased the proportion of cells in the G0/G1 and S+G2/M phases in FSH-stimulated and unstimulated granulosa cells (P<0.05). Furthermore, in the presence or absence of FSH, TGFB1 increased the proportion of cells in apoptosis measured by propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry and confirmed by increased levels of cleaved caspase-3 (P<0.05). Our results therefore indicate that TGFB1 inhibits luteinization in cultured bovine granulosa cells while maintaining an estrogenic phenotype, and this effect was associated with increased apoptosis.

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Philippe Godin, Mayra Tsoi, Marilène Paquet and Derek Boerboom

The development of the Müllerian ducts into the female reproductive tract requires the coordination of multiple signaling pathways that regulate proliferation, apoptosis and differentiation. The Hippo pathway has been reported to interact with several pathways with established roles in Müllerian duct development; yet, its potential roles in reproductive tract development and function remain mostly uncharacterized. The objective of this study was therefore to characterize the roles of the Hippo transcriptional coactivators YAP and TAZ in the female reproductive tract using transgenic mouse models. This report shows that the concomitant conditional inactivation of Yap and Taz in the mouse Müllerian duct mesenchyme results in postnatal developmental defects of the oviduct. Most notably, discontinuities in the myosalpinx layer lead to the progressive formation of cystic dilations of the isthmus. These defects prevented embryo transport and subsequent implantation in older animals, causing infertility. The loss of YAP/TAZ did not appear to affect other biological processes known to be required for the maintenance of oviductal wall integrity, such as TGF-β/SMAD and Notch signaling and the biogenesis of miRNA, suggesting that the Hippo pathway acts independently of these processes to direct oviduct development. Taken together, these results suggest redundant and essential roles for YAP and TAZ in the postnatal development of the oviduct and the maintenance of its structural integrity.