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Mingju Cao, José Buratini Jr, Jacques G Lussier, Paul D Carrière, and Christopher A Price

Extracellular matrix remodeling occurs during ovarian follicular development, mediated by plasminogen activators (PAs) and PA inhibitors including protease nexin-1 (PN-1). In the present study we measured expression/activity of the PA system in bovine follicles at different stages of development by timed collection of ovaries during the first follicular wave and during the periovulatory period, and in follicles collected from an abattoir. The abundance of mRNA encoding PN-1, tissue-type PA (tPA), urokinase (uPA) and PA inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) were initially upregulated by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in bovine preovulatory follicular wall homogenates. PN-1, PAI-1 and tPA mRNA expression then decreased near the expected time of ovulation, whereas uPA mRNA levels remained high. PN-1 concentration in follicular fluid (FF) decreased and reached the lowest level at the time of ovulation, whereas plasmin activity in FF increased significantly after hCG. Follicles collected from the abattoir were classified as non-atretic, early-atretic or atretic based on FF estradiol and progesterone content: PN-1 protein levels in FF were significantly higher in non-atretic than in atretic follicles, and plasmin activity was correspondingly higher in the atretic follicles. No changes in PN-1 levels in FF were observed during the growth of pre-deviation follicles early in a follicular wave. These results indicate that PN-1 may be involved in the process of atresia in non-ovulatory dominant follicles and the prevention of precocious proteolysis in periovulatory follicles.

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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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Bernardo G Gasperin, Rogério Ferreira, Monique T Rovani, Joabel T Santos, José Buratini, Christopher A Price, and Paulo Bayard D Gonçalves

Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are involved in paracrine control of follicle development. It was previously demonstrated that FGF10 decreases estradiol (E2) secretion in granulosa cell culture and that theca cell FGF10 mRNA expression is decreased in healthy follicles from abattoir ovaries. The main objectives of this study were to evaluate FGF10 and FGFR2b mRNA expression during follicular development in vivo, to evaluate the effect of FGF10 on follicle growth using Bos taurus taurus cows as a model, and to gain more insight into the mechanisms through which FGF10 inhibits steroidogenesis. Messenger RNA encoding both FGF10 and FGFR2b (main FGF10 receptor) was significantly more expressed in subordinate follicles (SFs) than in dominant follicles (DFs). The intrafollicular injection of FGF10 into the largest growing follicle at 7–8 mm in diameter interrupted the DF growth in a dose-dependent manner (11±0.4, 8.3±1 and 5.9±0.3 mm for 0, 0.1, and 1 μg/ml FGF10, respectively, at 72 h after treatment; P<0.05). In a third experiment, follicles were obtained 24 h after FGF10 (1 μg/ml) or PBS treatment through ovariectomy. In theca cells, FGF10 treatment did not affect mRNA encoding steroidogenic enzymes, LHCGR and IGFBPs, but significantly upregulated FGF10 mRNA expression. The expression of CYP19A1 mRNA in granulosa cells was downregulated by FGF10 treatment, which was accompanied by a 50-fold decrease in E2 production, and decreased cyclin D2 mRNA. These results have shown that FGF10 and its receptor FGFR2b are more expressed in SFs and provide solid in vivo evidence that FGF10 acts as an important regulator of follicular growth in cattle.

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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.