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The presence of spermatozoa in the uterus and oviducts at 15, 30 and 60 min after copulation was studied in rats after denervation of the neurohypophysis. Sperm migration occurred at the same rate as in normal rats.

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T Matsui, N Manabe, Y Goto, N Inoue, S Nishihara and H Miyamoto

Apoptosis in granulosa cells plays a crucial role in ovarian follicular atresia, but the intracellular regulating mechanism, especially the mitochondrion-dependent apoptosis signalling pathway, is still largely unknown. This study examined whether the mitochondrial pathway is associated with granulosa cell apoptosis during atresia in pig ovaries. Both mRNAs of caspase-9 and apoptotic protease-activating factor 1 (Apaf1), which are major signal transducing components in the mitochondrial pathway, were detected in granulosa cells in healthy, early atretic and progressed atretic follicles by RT-PCR. No changes in the expression of Apaf1 mRNA were seen during follicular atresia, but the expression of caspase-9 mRNA increased during atresia. Apaf1 protein was steadily detected in granulosa cells prepared from healthy, early atretic and progressed atretic follicles by western blot analysis, but high expression of the precursor of caspase-9 (procaspase-9) was detected only in granulosa cells of healthy follicles. Decreased procaspase-9 protein was demonstrated during follicular atresia. Proteolytic activity of caspase-9 increased during atresia, in agreement with the diminution of procaspase-9 protein. Intensive expression of caspase-9 mRNA was demonstrated in the granulosa cells of early atretic and progressed atretic follicles but not in those of healthy follicles. These results indicate that the mitochondrial signalling pathway, which is mediated by Apaf1 and caspase-9, plays a crucial role in determining the fate of granulosa cells during atresia in pig ovaries.