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Haolin Zhang, Ming Yi, Yan Zhang, Hongyan Jin, Wenxin Zhang, Jingjing Yang, Liying Yan, Rong Li, Yue Zhao, and Jie Qiao

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex endocrine and metabolic disorder with unclear etiology and unsatisfactory management. Effects of diets on the phenotype of PCOS were not fully understood. In the present study, we applied 45 and 60% high-fat diets (HFDs) on a rat model of PCOS induced by postnatal DHEA injection. We found that both DHEA and DHEA+HFDs rats exhibited reproductive abnormalities, including hyperandrogenism, irregular cycles and polycystic ovaries. The addition of HFDs, especially 60% HFDs, exaggerated morphological changes of ovaries and a number of metabolic changes, including increased body weight and body fat content, impaired glucose tolerance and increased serum insulin levels. Results from qPCR showed that DHEA-induced increased expression of hypothalamic androgen receptor and LH receptor were reversed by the addition of 60% HFDs. In contrast, the ovarian expression of LH receptor and insulin receptor mRNA was upregulated only with the addition of 60% HFDs. These findings indicated that DHEA and DHEA+HFDs might influence PCOS phenotypes through distinct mechanisms: DHEA affects the normal function of hypothalamus–pituitary–ovarian axis through LH, whereas the addition of HFDs exaggerated endocrine and metabolic dysfunction through ovarian responses to insulin-related mechanisms. We concluded that the addition of HFDs yielded distinct phenotypes of DHEA-induced PCOS and could be used for studies on both reproductive and metabolic features of the syndrome.

Free access

Xin Huang, Chang Liu, Cuifang Hao, Qianqing Tang, Riming Liu, Shaoxia Lin, Luping Zhang, and Wei Yan


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine and metabolic disorder in women and is characterised by polycystic ovaries, hyperandrogenism and chronic anovulation. Although the clinical and biochemical signs of PCOS are typically heterogeneous, abnormal folliculogenesis is considered a common characteristic of PCOS. Our aim is to identify the altered miRNA and mRNA expression profiles in the cumulus cells of PCOS patients to investigate their molecular function in the aetiology and pathophysiology of PCOS. In this study, the miRNA expression profiles of the cumulus cell samples isolated from five PCOS and five control patients were determined by an miRNA microarray. At the same time, the altered mRNA profiles of the same cumulus cell samples were also identified by a cDNA microarray. From the microarray data, 17 miRNAs and 1263 mRNAs showed significantly different expression in the PCOS cumulus cells. The differentially expressed miRNA-509-3p and its potential target gene (MAP3K8) were identified from the miRNA and mRNA microarrays respectively. The expression of miRNA-509-3p was up-regulated and MAP3K8 was down-regulated in the PCOS cumulus cells. The direct interaction between miRNA-509-3p and MAP3K8 was confirmed by a luciferase activity assay in KGN cells. In addition, miRNA-509-3p mimics or inhibitor transfection tests in KGN cells further confirmed that miRNA-509-3p improved oestradiol (E2) secretion by inhibiting the expression of MAP3K8. These results help to characterise the pathogenesis of anovulation in PCOS, especially the regulation of E2 production.

Free access

Keqin Yan, Dingqing Feng, Jing Liang, Qing Wang, Lin Deng, Xiao Zhang, Bin Ling, and Daishu Han

Viral infections of the ovary may perturb ovarian functions. However, the mechanisms underlying innate immune responses in the ovary are poorly understood. The present study demonstrates that cytosolic viral DNA sensor signaling initiates the innate immune response in mouse ovarian granulosa cells and affects endocrine function. The cytosolic DNA sensors p204 and cGAS and their common signaling adaptor stimulator of interferon (IFN) genes (STING) were constitutively expressed in granulosa cells. Transfection with VACV70, a synthetic vaccinia virus (VACV) DNA analog, induced the expression of type I interferons (IFNA/B) and major inflammatory cytokines (TNFA and IL6) through IRF3 and NF-κB activation respectively. Moreover, several IFN-inducible antiviral proteins, including 2′,5′-oligoadenylate synthetase, IFN-stimulating gene 15 and Mx GTPase 1, were also induced by VACV70 transfection. The innate immune responses in granulosa cells were significantly reduced by the transfection of specific small-interfering RNAs targeting p204, cGas or Sting. Notably, the VACV70-triggered innate immune responses affected steroidogenesis in vivo and in vitro. The data presented in this study describe the mechanism underlying ovarian immune responses to viral infection.

Open access

Hang Qi, Guiling Liang, Jin Yu, Xiaofeng Wang, Yan Liang, Xiaoqing He, Tienan Feng, and Jian Zhang

MicroRNA (miRNA) expression profiles in tubal endometriosis (EM) are still poorly understood. In this study, we analyzed the differential expression of miRNAs and the related gene networks and signaling pathways in tubal EM. Four tubal epithelium samples from tubal EM patients and five normal tubal epithelium samples from uterine leiomyoma patients were collected for miRNA microarray. Bioinformatics analyses, including Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA), Gene Ontology (GO) analysis and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis, were performed. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) validation of five miRNAs was performed in six tubal epithelium samples from tubal EM and six from control. A total of 17 significantly differentially expressed miRNAs and 4343 potential miRNA-target genes involved in tubal EM were identified (fold change >1.5 and FDR-adjusted P value <0.05). IPA indicated connections between miRNAs, target genes and other gynecological diseases like endometrial carcinoma. GO and KEGG analysis revealed that most of the identified genes were involved in the mTOR signaling pathway, SNARE interactions in vesicular transport and endocytosis. We constructed an miRNA-gene-disease network using target gene prediction. Functional analysis showed that the mTOR pathway was connected closely to tubal EM. Our results demonstrate for the first time the differentially expressed miRNAs and the related signal pathways involved in the pathogenesis of tubal EM which contribute to elucidating the pathogenic mechanism of tubal EM-related infertility.

Free access

Qian Zhang, Song Yu, Xing Huang, Yi Tan, Cheng Zhu, Yan-Ling Wang, Haibin Wang, Hai-Yan Lin, Jiejun Fu, and Hongmei Wang

Cullin 3 (CUL3), a scaffold protein, assembles a large number of ubiquitin ligase complexes, similar to Skp1-Cullin 1-F-box protein complex. Several genetic models have shown that CUL3 is crucial for early embryonic development. Nevertheless, the role of CUL3 in human trophoblast function remains unclear. In this study, immunostaining revealed that CUL3 was strongly expressed in the villous cytotrophoblasts, the trophoblast column, and the invasive extravillous trophoblasts. Silencing CUL3 significantly inhibited the outgrowth of villous explant ex vivo and decreased invasion and migration of trophoblast HTR8/SVneo cells. Furthermore, CUL3 siRNA decreased pro-MMP9 activity and increased the levels of TIMP1 and 2. We also found that the level of CUL3 in the placental villi from pre-eclamptic patients was significantly lower as compared to that from their gestational age-matched controls. Moreover, in the lentiviral-mediated placenta-specific CUL3 knockdown mice, lack of CUL3 resulted in less invasive trophoblast cells in the maternal decidua. Taken together, these results suggest an essential role for CUL3 in the invasion and migration of trophoblast cells, and dysregulation of its expression may be associated with the onset of pre-eclampsia.

Free access

Xiaohui Cui, Yan Sun, Xiuge Wang, Chunhong Yang, Zhihua Ju, Qiang Jiang, Yan Zhang, Jinming Huang, Jifeng Zhong, Miao Yin, and Changfa Wang

The micromolar calcium-activated neutral protease gene (CAPN1) is a physiological candidate gene for sperm motility. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in regulating the expression of the CAPN1 gene in bulls remain unknown. In this study, we investigated the expression pattern of CAPN1 in testis, epididymis, and sperm at the RNA and protein levels by qRT-PCR, western blot, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence assay. Results revealed that the expression of CAPN1 levels was higher in the sperm head compared with that in other tissues. Moreover, we identified a novel single-nucleotide polymorphism (g.-1256 A>C, ss 1917715340) in the noncanonical core promoter of the CAPN1 gene between base g.-1306 and g.-1012. Additionally, we observed greater sperm motility in bulls with the genotype CC than in those with the genotype AA (P<0.01), indicating that different genotypes were associated with the bovine semen trait. Furthermore, a higher fluorescence intensity of the C allele than that of the A allele at g. -1256 A>C was revealed by transient transfection in MLTC-1 cells and luciferase report assay. Finally, CAPN1 was highly expressed in the spermatozoa with the CC genotype compared with that with the AA genotype by qRT-PCR. This study is the first report on genetic variant g.-1256 A>C in the promoter region of CAPN1 gene association with the semen quality of Chinese Holstein bulls by influencing its expression. g.-1256 A>C can be a functional molecular marker in cattle breeding.

Free access

Ruizhi Deng, Chengquan Han, Lu Zhao, Qing Zhang, Beifen Yan, Rui Cheng, Biao Wei, Peng Meng, Tingchao Mao, Yong Zhang, and Jun Liu

Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which are abundant in mammalian genomes, can modulate the expression of nearby genes, and their expression is dynamic and stage-specific during early embryonic development in mice and humans. However, the functions and mechanisms of ERV elements in regulating embryonic development remain unclear. Here, we utilized several methods to determine the contribution of ERVs to the makeup and regulation of transcripts during embryonic genome activation (EGA). We constructed an ERV library and embryo RNA-seq library (IVF_2c and IVF_8c) of goat to serve as our research basis. The GO and KEGG analysis of nearby ERV genes revealed that some ERV elements may be associated with embryonic development. RNA-seq results were consistent with the features of EGA. To obtain the transcripts derived from the ERV sequences, we blasted the ERV sequences with embryonic transcripts and identified three lncRNAs and one mRNA that were highly expressed in IVF-8c rather than in IVF-2c (q-value <0.05). Then, we validated the expression patterns of nine ERV-related transcripts during early developmental stages and knocked down three high-expression transcripts in EGA. The knockdown of lncRNA TCONS_00460156 or mRNA HSD17B11 significantly decreased the developmental rate of IVF embryos. Our findings suggested that some transcripts from ERVs are essential for the early embryonic development of goat, and analyzing the ERV expression profile during goat EGA may help elucidate the molecular mechanisms of ERV in regulating embryonic development.

Free access

Kang Shan, Ma Xiao-Wei, Wang Na, Zhang Xiu-Feng, Wen Deng-Gui, Guo Wei, Zhang Zheng-Mao, and Li Yan

Endometriosis, one of the most frequent diseases in gynecology, is a benign but invasive and metastatic disease. The altered expression of E-cadherin may play an important role in developing endometriosis. In this paper, we discuss the association of three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the E-cadherin gene and risk of endometriosis. We examined the genotype frequency of three polymorphisms in 152 endometriosis patients and 189 control women. There was a significant difference in the frequency of the E-cadherin 3′-UTR C → T genotypes between endometriosis and controls (P = 0.01). The frequency of the C allele in patients (71.1%) was significantly higher than in the controls (63.8%; P = 0.04). When compared with the T/T + T/C genotypes, the C/C genotype had a significantly increased susceptibility to endometriosis, with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.79 (95% confidence interval = 1.17–2.76). No significant difference was found between endometriosis and control women on two polymorphisms (−160 C → A, −347 G → GA) at the gene promoter region of E-cadherin. The −160 C → A and −347 G → GA polymorphisms displayed linkage disequilibrium (D′ = 0.999). The −160 A/−347 GA haplotype was only detected in endometriosis patients (2%). These data show a relation between the E-cadherin 3′-UTR C → T polymorphism, the −160 A/−347 GA haplotype of two promoter polymorphisms and risk of endometriosis, suggesting a potential role in endometriosis development, at least in North Chinese women.

Restricted access

Yingying Zhou, Yangying Peng, Qingqing Xia, Dewen Yan, Huiping Zhang, Lingmin Zhang, Ying Chen, Xiumin Zhao, and Jie Li

Indian hedgehog (Ihh) signaling regulates endometrial receptivity and is an indispensable mediator of embryonic implantation. Hedgehog signaling is known to regulate autophagy, and aberrant regulation of autophagy is critically implicated in the pathogenesis of endometriosis and adenomyosis. However, potential dysregulation of Ihh signaling and its role in autophagy modulation in these diseases remain obscure. In this study, we found that components of Ihh signaling were significantly decreased, whereas the autophagy marker protein, LC3BII, was significantly increased in endometrial tissues of women with endometriosis or adenomyosis. Inhibition of Ihh signaling with the small-molecule inhibitor GANT61 or Gli1 silencing in primary endometrial stromal cells increased autophagic activity, as measured by LC3 turnover assay and tandem mCherry-eGFP-LC3B fluorescence microscopy. Furthermore, we observed that GANT61 treatment significantly attenuated hydrogen peroxide-induced cell death, whereas disruption of autophagy with chloroquine diminished this effect. Collectively, these findings reveal that Ihh signaling is suppressed in endometrial tissues of patients with endometriosis or adenomyosis. This abnormal decrease may contribute to endometrial autophagy activation, which may promote aberrant survival of endometrial cells in ectopic sites in these two gynecological diseases.

Free access

Ma Tian-Zhong, Chen Bi, Zhang Ying, Jing Xia, Peng Cai-Ling, Zhang Yun-Shan, Huang Mei-Wen, and Niu Yan-Ru


Emx2 deletion impairs the growth and maintenance of the genital ridge. However, its role in subsequent germ cell differentiation during embryonic stages is unknown. Using a tamoxifen-inducible Cre-loxP mouse model (Emx2 flox/flox, Cre-ER TM, hereafter called as Emx2 knockdown), we showed that germ cell differentiation was impaired in Emx2-knockdown testes. Representative characteristics of male germ cell differentiation, including a reduced ability to form embryonic germ (EG) cell colonies in vitro, down-regulation of pluripotency markers and G1/G0 arrest, did not occur in Emx2-knockdown testes. Furthermore, FGF9 and NODAL signalling occurred at abnormally high levels in Emx2-knockdown testes. Both blocking FGF9 signalling with SU5402 and inhibiting NODAL signalling with SB431542 allowed germ cells from Emx2-knockdown testes to differentiate in vitro. Therefore, EMX2 in somatic cells is required to trigger germ cell differentiation in XY foetuses, posterior to its previously reported role in the growth and maintenance of the genital ridge.