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Wei Wang, Xia Chen, Xinxiu Li, Li Wang, Haiyan Zhang, Yu He, Jingjing Wang, Yongyan Zhao, Baole Zhang and Yinxue Xu

FSH plays a critical role in granulosa cell (GC) proliferation and steroidogenesis through modulation by factors including bone morphogenetic proteins family, which belongs to transforming growth factor β (TGFB) superfamily. TGFBs are the key factors in maintaining cell growth and differentiation in ovaries. However, the interaction of FSH and TGFB on the GCs' proliferation and steroidogenesis remains to be elucidated. In this study, we have investigated the role of SMAD4, a core molecule mediating the intracellular TGFB/SMAD signal transduction pathway, in FSH-mediated proliferation and steroidogenesis of porcine GCs. In this study, SMAD4 was knocked down using interference RNA in porcine GCs. Our results showed that SMAD4-siRNA causes specific inhibition of SMAD4 mRNA and protein expression after transfection. Knockdown of SMAD4 significantly inhibited FSH-induced porcine GC proliferation and estradiol production and changed the expression of cyclin D2, CDK2, CDK4, CYP19a1, and CYP11a1. Thus, these observations establish an important role of SMAD4 in the regulation of the response of porcine GCs to FSH.

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Jingjing Guo, Hongyu Zhou, Zhijian Su, Bingbing Chen, Guimin Wang, Claire Q F Wang, Yunfei Xu and Ren-Shan Ge

The objective of this study was to purify cells in the Leydig cell lineage following regeneration after ethane dimethanesulfonate (EDS) treatment and compare their steroidogenic capacity. Regenerated progenitor (RPLCs), immature (RILCs), and adult Leydig cells (RALCs) were isolated from testes 21, 28 and 56 days after EDS treatment respectively. Production rates for androgens including androsterone and 5α-androstane-17β, 3α-diol (DIOL), testosterone and androstenedione were measured in RPLCs, RILCs and RALCs in media after 3-h in vitro culture with 100 ng/ml LH. Steady-state mRNA levels of steroidogenic enzymes and their activities were measured in freshly isolated cells. Compared to adult Leydig cells (ALCs) isolated from normal 90-day-old rat testes, which primarily produce testosterone (69.73%), RPLCs and RILCs primarily produced androsterone (70.21%) and DIOL (69.79%) respectively. Leydig cells isolated from testes 56 days post-EDS showed equivalent capacity of steroidogenesis to ALCs and primarily produced testosterone (72.90%). RPLCs had cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 and 17α-hydroxylase but had almost no detectable 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 3 and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 activities, while RILCs had increased 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 3 and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 activities. Because RPLCs and RILCs had higher 5α-reductase 1 and 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activities they produced mainly 5α-reduced androgens. Real-time PCR confirmed the similar trends for the expressions of these steroidogenic enzymes. In conclusion, the purified RPLCs, RILCs and RALCs are similar to those of their counterparts during rat pubertal development.

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Dong Han, Xin-Yan Cao, Hui-Li Wang, Jing-Jing Li, Yan-Bo Wang and Jing-He Tan

Although studies suggest that the low competence of oocytes from prepubertal animals is due to their insufficient cytoplasmic maturation and that FSH improves oocyte maturation possibly by retarding meiotic progression and allowing more time for cytoplasmic maturation, the mechanisms by which puberty and gonadotropins regulate meiotic progression require additional detailed studies. For the first time, we observed that while meiotic progression was significantly slower, the maturation-promoting factor (MPF) activity of oocytes was significantly higher in prepubertal than in adult mice. To resolve this contradiction, we specified the molecules regulating the MPF activity and their localization during oocyte maturation in prepubertal and adult mice primed with or without gonadotropins. Our tests using corresponding enzyme regulators suggested that while activities of protein kinase A were unaffected, the activity of adenylate cyclase (ADCY) and phosphodiesterase increased while cell division cycle 2 homolog A (CDC2A) decreased significantly after puberty. While most of the adult oocytes had CDC2A protein concentrated in the germinal vesicle (GV) region, the majority of prepubertal oocytes showed no nuclear concentration of CDC2A. Maximally priming mice with equine chorionic gonadotropin brought the above parameters of prepubertal oocytes close to those in adult oocytes. Together, the results suggest that puberty and gonadotropin control oocyte meiotic progression mainly by regulating the ADCY activity and the concentration of the activated MPF toward the GV region.

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Zhengkai Wei, Tingting Yu, Jingjing Wang, Chaoqun Wang, Xiao Liu, Zhen Han, Xu Zhang, Yong Zhang, Hongsheng Ouyang and Zhengtao Yang

Sperm motility, fertilization and embryo implantation are several important factors in reproduction. Except healthy state of sperm and embryo themselves, successful pregnancy is closely related to the status of female reproductive tract immune system. Increased immune cells in reproductive tract often leads to low sperm motility and low chance of embryo implantation, but the mechanisms remain not well clarified. The aim of this study is to investigate the direct effects of swine polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) on sperm or embryo in vitro and then try to clarify the molecular mechanisms undergoing the phenomenon. Swine sperm-triggered neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) were observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). PMNs phagocytosis of sperms was examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Sperm-triggered NETs were quantitated by Pico Green®. Vital staining of the interaction between PMNs and embryo were observed by using confocal microscope. It was showed that PMNs were directly activated by sperm in the form of phagocytosis or casting NETs and that sperm-triggered-NETs formation was made up with DNA co-located with citrullinated histone 3 (citH3) and myeloperoxidase (MPO). In addition, the potential mechanism of NETs release was relevant to NADPH oxidase, ERK1/2 or p38 MAPK signaling pathways. Of great interest was that swine embryo was first found entangled in NETs in vitro, but the function and mechanism of this action in vivo fertilization still needed further investigation. In conclusion, this is the first report about swine sperm-induced NETs that entangle sperm and embryo, which might provide an entirely understanding of swine reproductive physiology and immunology.