Gene expression for LH receptor, 17α-hydroxylase and StAR in the theca interna of preantral and early antral follicles in the bovine ovary

R. Braw-Tal*, Z. Roth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

The onset of gene expression for three proteins that play pivotal roles in theca interna function, namely the LH receptor (LH-R), cytochrome P450 17α-hydroxylase (17αOH) and the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), was determined. Ovaries were obtained on day 9 of the oestrus cycle from mature synchronized dairy cows (n = 5) and gene expression in preantral and antral follicles up to 4 mm in diameter was evaluated by in situ hybridization. LH-R and 17αOH mRNAs were observed first, in the theca interna of large preantral follicles (type 4), concurrent with its morphological differentiation. StAR mRNA appeared later during follicular growth, in follicles >1 mm in diameter (type 6). LH-R and 17αOH mRNAs were found exclusively in the thecal cells, whereas StAR MRNA appeared in thecal cells, granulosa cells of late atretic follicles and oocytes. In early atresia, thecal cells expressed all three mRNAs, and their expression decreased gradually as atresia progressed. Atresia in granulosa cells was characterized by massive apoptosis of periantral, but not peribasal cells, that differentiated into luteal-like cells expressing StAR. In summary, our study suggests that in spite of the presence of 17αOH, a key enzyme in steroidogenesis, the ability to produce steroids by bovine follicles smaller than 1 mm in diameter must be very limited due to the absence of StAR protein. During the early stages of atresia, thecal cells remain morphologically and functionally healthy, and continue to express all three studied mRNAS.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)453-461
Number of pages9
JournalReproduction
Volume129
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2005

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