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  • Author: Peter D Johnstone x
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Jennifer L Juengel, Laurel D Quirke, Stan Lun, Derek A Heath, Peter D Johnstone and Kenneth P McNatty

Sheep with a heterozygous inactivating mutation in the bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) gene experience an increased ovulation rate during either a natural oestrous cycle or a cycle in which exogenous FSH and eCG (gonadotrophins) are given to induce multiple ovulations. The primary aim of these studies was to determine whether ewes immunised against BMP15 would also show an improved superovulation rate following exogenous gonadotrophin treatment. A secondary aim was to determine the effects of BMP15 immunisation on ovarian follicular characteristics. In most ewes (i.e. >75%) immunised with a BMP15-keyhole limpet haemocyanin peptide in an oil-based adjuvant in order to completely neutralise BMP15 bioactivity, there was no superovulation response to exogenous gonadotrophins. In ewes treated with exogenous gonadotrophins following a BMP15-BSA peptide immunisation in a water-based adjuvant to partially neutralise BMP15 bioactivity, the ovulation rate response was similar to the control superovulation treatment groups. Characterisation of follicular function revealed that the water-based BMP15-immunised animals had fewer non-atretic follicles 2.5–3.5 or >4.5 mm in diameter compared with controls. Basal concentrations of cAMP were higher in granulosa cells from animals immunised against BMP15 than control animals. There were no significant differences in the concentrations of cAMP between granulosa cells from BMP15- and control-immunised animals when given FSH or hCG, although there were differences in the proportions of follicles in different size classes that responded to FSH or hCG. Thus, immunisation against BMP15 may have been causing premature luteinisation and thereby limiting the numbers of follicles recruited for ovulation following treatment with exogenous gonadotrophins.

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Jennifer L Juengel, Michelle C French, Laurel D Quirke, Alexia Kauff, George W Smith and Peter D Johnstone

We hypothesised that cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CARTPT) would be differentially expressed in ewes with differing ovulation rates. Expression of mRNA for CARTPT, as well as LHCGR, FSHR, CYP19A1 and CYP17A1 was determined in antral follicles ≥1 mm in diameter collected during the follicular phase in ewes heterozygous for the Booroola and Inverdale genes (I+B+; average ovulation rate 4) and ++ contemporaries (++; average ovulation rate 1.8). In ++ ewes (n = 6), CARTPT was expressed in small follicles (1 to <3 mm diameter), where 18.8 ± 2.5% follicles expressed CARTPT. CART peptide was also detected in follicular fluid of some follicles of ++ ewes. In I+B+ ewes, 5/6 ewes did not have any follicles that expressed CARTPT, and no CART peptide was detected in any follicle examined. Expression pattern of CYP19A1 differed between I+B+ and ++ ewes with an increased percentage of small and medium follicles (3 to <4.5 mm diameter) but decreased percentage of large follicles (≥4.5 mm diameter) expressing CYP19A1 in the I+B+ ewes. Many of the large follicles from the I+B+ ewes appeared non-functional and expression of LHCGR, FSHR, CYP17A1 and CYP19A1 was less than that observed in ++ ewes. Expression of FSHR and CYP17A1 was not different between groups in small and medium follicles, but LHCGR expression was approximately double in I+B+ ewes compared to that in ++ ewes. Thus, ewes with high ovulation rates had a distinct pattern of expression of CARTPT mRNA and protein compared to ewes with normal ovulation rates, providing evidence for CART being important in the regulation of ovulation rate.