Current Research and Scholarly Interests

We have been investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the hormonal regulation of ovarian follicle growth and differentiation. By expressing recombinant FSH, LH and hCG and producing their mutants, we have designed long-acting agonists as well as deglycosylated antagonists of gonadotropins. We have also cloned human LH and FSH receptors and the expression of these proteins allows analysis of gonadotropin bioactivity in vitro. The extracellular ligand-binding domain of these receptors have been generated and found to be functional antagonists. Clinical syndromes of gain-of-function mutations for the LH receptor have been found in patients with familial male precocious puberty whereas loss-of-function mutations have been found to be the basis of Leydig cell hypoplasia. We are using bioinformatic tools and DNA microarray to analyze polypeptide hormones andtheir receptors in terms of ligand-receptor matching and paracrine interactions.

2017-18 Courses

All Publications

  • Promotion of Ovarian Follicle Growth following mTOR Activation: Synergistic Effects of AKT Stimulators. PloS one Cheng, Y., Kim, J., Li, X. X., Hsueh, A. J. 2015; 10 (2)


    Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine/threonine kinase and mTOR signaling is important in regulating cell growth and proliferation. Recent studies using oocyte- and granulosa cell-specific deletion of mTOR inhibitor genes TSC1 or TSC2 demonstrated the important role of mTOR signaling in the promotion of ovarian follicle development. We now report that treatment of ovaries from juvenile mice with an mTOR activator MHY1485 stimulated mTOR, S6K1 and rpS6 phosphorylation. Culturing ovaries for 4 days with MHY1485 increased ovarian explant weights and follicle development. In vivo studies further demonstrated that pre-incubation of these ovaries with MHY1485 for 2 days, followed by allo-grafting into kidney capsules of adult ovariectomized hosts for 5 days, led to marked increases in graft weights and promotion of follicle development. Mature oocytes derived from MHY1485-activated ovarian grafts could be successfully fertilized, leading the delivery of healthy pups. We further treated ovaries with the mTOR activator together with AKT activators (PTEN inhibitor and phosphoinositol-3-kinase stimulator) before grafting and found additive enhancement of follicle growth. Our studies demonstrate the ability of an mTOR activator in promoting follicle growth, leading to a potential strategy to stimulate preantral follicle growth in infertile patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0117769

    View details for PubMedID 25710488

  • A Naturally Occurring Lgr4 Splice Variant Encodes a Soluble Antagonist Useful for Demonstrating the Gonadal Roles of Lgr4 in Mammals PLOS ONE Hsu, P., Wu, F., Kudo, M., Hsiao, C., Hsueh, A. J., Luo, C. 2014; 9 (9)


    Leucine-rich repeat containing G protein-coupled receptor 4 (LGR4) promotes the Wnt signaling through interaction with R-spondins or norrin. Using PCR amplification from rat ovarian cDNAs, we identified a naturally occurring Lgr4 splice variant encoding only the ectodomain of Lgr4, which was named Lgr4-ED. Lgr4-ED can be detected as a secreted protein in the extracts from rodent and bovine postnatal gonads, suggesting conservation of Lgr4-ED in mammals. Recombinant Lgr4-ED purified from the conditioned media of transfected 293T cells was found to dose-dependently inhibit the LGR4-mediated Wnt signaling induced by RSPO2 or norrin, suggesting that it is capable of ligand absorption and could have a potential role as an antagonist. Intraperitoneal injection of purified recombinant Lgr4-ED into newborn mice was found to significantly decrease the testicular expression of estrogen receptor alpha and aquaporin 1, which is similar to the phenotype found in Lgr4-null mice. Administration of recombinant Lgr4-ED to superovulated female rats can also decrease the expression of estrogen receptor alpha, aquaporin 1, LH receptor and other key steroidogenic genes as well as bring about the suppression of progesterone production. Thus, these findings suggest that endogenously expressed Lgr4-ED may act as an antagonist molecule and help to fine-tune the R-spondin/norrin-mediated Lgr4-Wnt signaling during gonadal development.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0106804

    View details for Web of Science ID 000341271500089

    View details for PubMedID 25188337

  • A Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism of Human Neuropeptide S Gene Originated from Europe Shows Decreased Bioactivity PLOS ONE Deng, C., He, X., Hsueh, A. J. 2013; 8 (12)


    Using accumulating SNP (Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism) data, we performed a genome-wide search for polypeptide hormone ligands showing changes in the mature regions to elucidate genotype/phenotype diversity among various human populations. Neuropeptide S (NPS), a brain peptide hormone highly conserved in vertebrates, has diverse physiological effects on anxiety, fear, hyperactivity, food intake, and sleeping time through its cognate receptor-NPSR. Here, we report a SNP rs4751440 (L(6)-NPS) causing non-synonymous substitution on the 6(th) position (V to L) of the NPS mature peptide region. L(6)-NPS has a higher allele frequency in Europeans than other populations and probably originated from European ancestors ~25,000 yrs ago based on haplotype analysis and Approximate Bayesian Computation. Functional analyses indicate that L(6)-NPS exhibits a significant lower bioactivity than the wild type NPS, with ~20-fold higher EC50 values in the stimulation of NPSR. Additional evolutionary and mutagenesis studies further demonstrate the importance of the valine residue in the 6(th) position for NPS functions. Given the known physiological roles of NPS receptor in inflammatory bowel diseases, asthma pathogenesis, macrophage immune responses, and brain functions, our study provides the basis to elucidate NPS evolution and signaling diversity among human populations.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0083009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000329117900017

    View details for PubMedID 24386135

  • Hippo signaling disruption and Akt stimulation of ovarian follicles for infertility treatment PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Kawamura, K., Cheng, Y., Suzuki, N., Deguchi, M., Sato, Y., Takae, S., Ho, C., Kawamura, N., Tamura, M., Hashimoto, S., Sugishita, Y., Morimoto, Y., Hosoi, Y., Yoshioka, N., Ishizuka, B., Hsueh, A. J. 2013; 110 (43): 17474-17479


    Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) and polycystic ovarian syndrome are ovarian diseases causing infertility. Although there is no effective treatment for POI, therapies for polycystic ovarian syndrome include ovarian wedge resection or laser drilling to induce follicle growth. Underlying mechanisms for these disruptive procedures are unclear. Here, we explored the role of the conserved Hippo signaling pathway that serves to maintain optimal size across organs and species. We found that fragmentation of murine ovaries promoted actin polymerization and disrupted ovarian Hippo signaling, leading to increased expression of downstream growth factors, promotion of follicle growth, and the generation of mature oocytes. In addition to elucidating mechanisms underlying follicle growth elicited by ovarian damage, we further demonstrated additive follicle growth when ovarian fragmentation was combined with Akt stimulator treatments. We then extended results to treatment of infertility in POI patients via disruption of Hippo signaling by fragmenting ovaries followed by Akt stimulator treatment and autografting. We successfully promoted follicle growth, retrieved mature oocytes, and performed in vitro fertilization. Following embryo transfer, a healthy baby was delivered. The ovarian fragmentation-in vitro activation approach is not only valuable for treating infertility of POI patients but could also be useful for middle-aged infertile women, cancer patients undergoing sterilizing treatments, and other conditions of diminished ovarian reserve.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1312830110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000325943300068

    View details for PubMedID 24082083

  • Actin Cytoskeleton Regulates Hippo Signaling PLOS ONE Reddy, P., Deguchi, M., Cheng, Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2013; 8 (9)


    Hippo pathway controls the organ size by modulating cell proliferation and apoptosis. However, the upstream regulation of hippo signaling by actin cytoskeleton is not clear. To elucidate the role of actin as an upstream regulator of Hippo signaling, the levels of F (filamentous)-actin in cells were elevated using jasplakinolide, an actin-stabilizing drug. Induction of F-actin formation in HeLa cells resulted in decreased phosphorylation of YAP, a key effector molecule for Hippo signaling. The activated YAP is localized to the cell nucleus and YAP increase was associated with increased expression of downstream CCN growth factors CCN1/CYR61 and CCN2/CTGF. The effect of the actin-stabilizing drug was blocked when YAP levels were suppressed in YAP "knock-down" cells. In summary, using an actin-stabilizing drug we show that actin cytoskeleton is one of the upstream regulators of Hippo signaling capable of activating YAP and increasing its downstream CCN growth factors.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0073763

    View details for Web of Science ID 000326734500048

    View details for PubMedID 24040060

  • Oocyte-derived R-spondin2 promotes ovarian follicle development. FASEB journal Cheng, Y., Kawamura, K., Takae, S., Deguchi, M., Yang, Q., Kuo, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2013; 27 (6): 2175-2184


    R-spondin proteins are adult stem cell growth factors capable of stimulating gut development by activating LGR4, 5, and 6 receptors to promote Wnt signaling. Although multiple Wnt ligands and cognate Frizzled receptors are expressed in the ovary, their physiological roles are unclear. Based on bioinformatic and in situ hybridization analyses, we demonstrated the exclusive expression of R-spondin2 in oocytes of ovarian follicles. In cultured somatic cells from preantral follicles, R-spondin2 treatment (ED50: 3 ng/ml) synergized with Wnt3a to stimulate Wnt signaling. In cultured ovarian explants from prepubertal mice containing preantral follicles, treatment with R-spondin2, similar to follicle stimulating hormone, promoted the development of primary follicles to the secondary stage. In vivo administration of an R-spondin agonist stimulated the development of primary follicles to the antral stage in both immature mice and gonadotropin releasing hormone antagonist-treated adult mice. Subsequent treatment with gonadotropins allowed the generation of mature oocytes capable of undergoing early embryonic development and successful pregnancy. Furthermore, R-spondin agonist treatment of immune-deficient mice grafted with human cortical fragments stimulated the development of primary follicles to the secondary stage. Thus, oocyte-derived R-spondin2 is a paracrine factor essential for primary follicle development, and R-spondin agonists could provide a new treatment regimen for infertile women with low responses to the traditional gonadotropin therapy.-Cheng, Y., Kawamura, K., Takae, S., Deguchi, M., Yang, Q., Kuo, C., Hsueh, A. J. W. Oocyte-derived R-spondin2 promotes ovarian follicle development.

    View details for DOI 10.1096/fj.12-223412

    View details for PubMedID 23407710

  • Multi-functional norrin is a ligand for the LGR4 receptor JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE Deng, C., Reddy, P., Cheng, Y., Luo, C., Hsiao, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2013; 126 (9): 2060-2068


    Mammalian LGR4, 5 and 6 are seven-transmembrane receptors that are important for diverse physiological processes. These receptors are orthologous to DLGR2, a Drosophila receptor activated by the burs/pburs heterodimer important for morphogenesis. Although recent studies indicated that four R-spondin proteins are cognate ligands for LGR4, 5 and 6 receptors, several BMP antagonists in vertebrates have been postulated to be orthologous to burs and pburs. Using newly available genome sequences, we showed that norrin is a vertebrate ortholog for insect burs and pburs and stimulates Wnt signaling mediated by LGR4, but not by LGR5 and 6, in mammalian cells. Although norrin could only activate LGR4, binding studies suggested interactions between norrin and LGR4, 5 and 6. Norrin, the Norrie disease gene product, is also capable of activating Wnt signaling mediated by the Frizzled4 receptor and serves as a BMP antagonist. Mutagenesis studies indicated that different norrin mutations found in patients with Norrie disease can be categorized into subgroups according to defects for signaling through the three distinct binding proteins. Thus, norrin is a rare ligand capable of binding three receptors/binding proteins that are important for BMP and Wnt signaling pathways.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/jcs.123471

    View details for Web of Science ID 000319561700017

    View details for PubMedID 23444378

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3666258

  • A Novel Reproductive Peptide, Phoenixin JOURNAL OF NEUROENDOCRINOLOGY Yosten, G. L., Lyu, R., Hsueh, A. J., Avsian-Kretchmer, O., Chang, J., TULLOCK, C. W., Dun, S. L., Dun, N., Samson, W. K. 2013; 25 (2): 206-215


    Normal anterior pituitary function is essential for fertility. Release from the gland of the reproductive hormones luteinising hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone is regulated primarily by hypothalamically-derived gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH), although other releasing factors (RF) have been postulated to exist. Using a bioinformatic approach, we have identified a novel peptide, phoenixin, that regulates pituitary gonadotrophin secretion by modulating the expression of the GnRH receptor, an action with physiologically relevant consequences. Compromise of phoenixin in vivo using small interfering RNA resulted in the delayed appearance of oestrus and a reduction in GnRH receptor expression in the pituitary. Phoenixin may represent a new class of hypothalamically-derived pituitary priming factors that sensitise the pituitary to the action of other RFs, rather than directly stimulating the fusion of secretary vesicles to pituitary membranes.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2012.02381.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000314072400011

    View details for PubMedID 22963497

  • Evolution of a Potential Hormone Antagonist following Gene Splicing during Primate Evolution. PloS one Deng, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2013; 8 (5)


    Alternative splicing of genes generates novel mRNAs, leading to the evolution of new functional proteins. Cholecystokinin (CCK) induces the release of pancreatic enzymes and the contraction of the gallbladder to promote the digestion of fat and proteins. CCK activates two G-protein-coupled receptors, CCKA and CCKB. Here, we showed that a CCKsv (splicing variant), originated de novo during Catarrhini evolution by including a portion of intronic sequence of the CCK gene, encodes novel C-terminal peptide sequence followed by a new poly-adenylation signal. CCKsv is expressed in many human tissues and likely a secreted peptide retaining the original signal peptide and the N-terminal proteolytic processing signal, together with novel C-terminal sequences. Although CCKsv cannot activate CCK receptors, it partially inhibits the CRE- or SRF-driven reporter activities stimulated by wide type CCK-8 mediated by both CCK receptors. Co-treatment with CCKsv also partially antagonizes Ewing tumor cell growth stimulated by CCK-8. Our study provides an example of new peptide hormone antagonist evolution in primates.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0064610

    View details for PubMedID 23724068

  • Promotion of Human Early Embryonic Development and Blastocyst Outgrowth In Vitro Using Autocrine/Paracrine Growth Factors PLOS ONE Kawamura, K., Chen, Y., Shu, Y., Cheng, Y., Qiao, J., Behr, B., Pera, R. A., Hsueh, A. J. 2012; 7 (11)


    Studies using animal models demonstrated the importance of autocrine/paracrine factors secreted by preimplantation embryos and reproductive tracts for embryonic development and implantation. Although in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET) is an established procedure, there is no evidence that present culture conditions are optimal for human early embryonic development. In this study, key polypeptide ligands known to be important for early embryonic development in animal models were tested for their ability to improve human early embryo development and blastocyst outgrowth in vitro. We confirmed the expression of key ligand/receptor pairs in cleavage embryos derived from discarded human tri-pronuclear zygotes and in human endometrium. Combined treatment with key embryonic growth factors (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, colony-stimulating factor, epidermal growth factor, granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor, insulin-like growth factor-1, glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor, and artemin) in serum-free media promoted >2.5-fold the development of tri-pronuclear zygotes to blastocysts. For normally fertilized embryos, day 3 surplus embryos cultured individually with the key growth factors showed >3-fold increases in the development of 6-8 cell stage embryos to blastocysts and >7-fold increase in the proportion of high quality blastocysts based on Gardner's criteria. Growth factor treatment also led to a 2-fold promotion of blastocyst outgrowth in vitro when day 7 surplus hatching blastocysts were used. When failed-to-be-fertilized oocytes were used to perform somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) using fibroblasts as donor karyoplasts, inclusion of growth factors increased the progression of reconstructed SCNT embryos to >4-cell stage embryos. Growth factor supplementation of serum-free cultures could promote optimal early embryonic development and implantation in IVF-ET and SCNT procedures. This approach is valuable for infertility treatment and future derivation of patient-specific embryonic stem cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0049328

    View details for Web of Science ID 000311234000064

    View details for PubMedID 23152897

  • C-Type Natriuretic Peptide Stimulates Ovarian Follicle Development MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Sato, Y., Cheng, Y., Kawamura, K., Takae, S., Hsueh, A. J. 2012; 26 (7): 1158-1166


    C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) encoded by the NPPC (Natriuretic Peptide Precursor C) gene expressed in ovarian granulosa cells inhibits oocyte maturation by activating the natriuretic peptide receptor (NPR)B (NPRB) in cumulus cells. RT-PCR analyses indicated increased NPPC and NPRB expression during ovarian development and follicle growth, associated with increases in ovarian CNP peptides in mice. In cultured somatic cells from infantile ovaries and granulosa cells from prepubertal animals, treatment with CNP stimulated cGMP production. Also, treatment of cultured preantral follicles with CNP stimulated follicle growth whereas treatment of cultured ovarian explants from infantile mice with CNP, similar to FSH, increased ovarian weight gain that was associated with the development of primary and early secondary follicles to the late secondary stage. Of interest, treatment with FSH increased levels of NPPC, but not NPRB, transcripts in ovarian explants. In vivo studies further indicated that daily injections of infantile mice with CNP for 4 d promoted ovarian growth, allowing successful ovulation induction by gonadotropins. In prepubertal mice, CNP treatment alone also promoted early antral follicle growth to the preovulatory stage, leading to efficient ovulation induction by LH/human chorionic gonadotropin. Mature oocytes retrieved after CNP treatment could be fertilized in vitro and developed into blastocysts, allowing the delivery of viable offspring. Thus, CNP secreted by growing follicles is capable of stimulating preantral and antral follicle growth. In place of FSH, CNP treatment could provide an alternative therapy for female infertility.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2012-1027

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305962500008

    View details for PubMedID 22595960

  • Ovarian Kaleidoscope Database: Ten Years and Beyond BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION Hsueh, A. J., Rauch, R. 2012; 86 (6)


    Ovarian Kaleidoscope database (OKdb) is an online, searchable, public database containing text-based and DNA microarray data to facilitate research by ovarian researchers. Using key words and predetermined categories, users can search ovarian gene information based on gene function, cell type of expression, cellular localization, hormonal regulation, mutant phenotypes, chromosomal location, ligand-receptor relationship, and other criteria, either alone or in combination. For individual genes, users can access more than 10 extensive DNA microarray datasets to interrogate gene expression patterns in a development-specific and cell type-specific manner. All ligand and receptor genes expressed in the ovary are matched to facilitate investigation of paracrine/autocrine signaling. More than 3500 ovarian genes in the database are matched to 185 gene pathways in the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes to allow for elucidation of gene interactions and relationships. In addition to >400 genes with infertility or subfertility phenotypes when mutated in mice or humans, the OKdb also lists ~50 and ~40 genes associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome and primary ovarian insufficiency, respectively. The expanding OKdb is updated weekly and allows submission of new genes by ovarian researchers to allow instant access to DNA microarray datasets for newly submitted genes. The present database is a virtual community for ovarian researchers and allows users to instantaneously provide their comments for individual gene pages based on an automated Web-discussion system. In the coming years, we will continue to add new features to serve the ovarian research community.

    View details for DOI 10.1095/biolreprod.112.099127

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306548000023

    View details for PubMedID 22441797

  • Intraovarian Thrombin and Activated Protein C Signaling System Regulates Steroidogenesis during the Periovulatory Period MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Cheng, Y., Kawamura, K., Deguchi, M., Takae, S., Mulders, S. M., Hsueh, A. J. 2012; 26 (2): 331-340


    In addition to its role in blood coagulation, thrombin directly stimulates protease-activated receptors (PAR) or interacts with thrombomodulin (THBD) to activate membrane-bound protein C which stimulates PAR1 and PAR4 receptors to promote downstream pleiotropic effects. Our DNA microarray, RT-PCR, and immunostaining analyses demonstrated ovarian expression of THBD, activated protein C (APC) receptor [endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR)], as well as PAR1 and PAR4 receptors in mice. After treatment of gonadotropin-primed immature mice with an ovulatory dose of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (a LH surrogate), major increases in the expression of THBD, EPCR, PAR1, and PAR4 were detected in granulosa and cumulus cells of preovulatory follicles. Immunoassay analyses demonstrated sustained increases in ovarian prothrombin and APC levels after hCG stimulation. We obtained luteinizing granulosa cells from mice treated sequentially with equine CG and hCG. Treatment of these cells with thrombin or agonists for PAR1 or PAR4 decreased basal and forskolin-induced cAMP biosynthesis and suppressed hCG-stimulated progesterone production. In cultured preovulatory follicles, treatment with hirudin (a thrombin antagonist) and SCH79797 (a PAR1 antagonist) augmented hCG-stimulated progesterone biosynthesis, suggesting a suppressive role of endogenous thrombin in steroidogenesis. Furthermore, intrabursal injection with hirudin or SCH79797 led to ipsilateral increases in ovarian progesterone content. Our findings demonstrated increased ovarian expression of key components of the thrombin-APC-PAR1/4 signaling system after LH/hCG stimulation, and this signaling pathway may allow optimal luteinization of preovulatory follicles. In addition to assessing the role of thrombin and associated genes in progesterone production by the periovulatory ovary, these findings provide a model with which to study molecular mechanisms underlying thrombin-APC-PAR1/4 signaling.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2011-1187

    View details for Web of Science ID 000300004700011

    View details for PubMedID 22207716

  • The Role of Cilostazol, a Phosphodiesterase 3 Inhibitor, on Oocyte Maturation and Subsequent Pregnancy in Mice PLOS ONE Li, M., Yu, Y., Yan, J., Yan, L., Zhao, Y., Li, R., Liu, P., Hsueh, A. J., Qiao, J. 2012; 7 (1)


    It is important to identify effective contraceptive drugs that cause minimal disruption to physiological processes. Phosphodiesterase 3 (PDE3) inhibitors suppress meiosis in oocytes by decreasing the level of cAMP and blocking the extrusion of the first polar body. In this study, we tested the PDE3 inhibitor, cilostazol, as a potential contraceptive agent. The effects of cilostazol treatment in vitro and in vivo on the suppression of oocyte maturation in a mouse model were investigated. The results indicated that treatment with increasing concentrations of cilostazol led to a dose-dependent arrest in meiosis progression. The effective in vitro concentration was 1 µM and was 300 mg/kg in vivo. The effect of cilostazol was reversible. After removal of the drug, meiosis resumed and mouse oocytes matured in vitro, and showed normal chromosome alignment and spindle organization. After fertilization using an ICSI method, the oocytes showed normal morphology, fertilization rate, embryo cleavage, blastocyst formation, and number of viable pups when compared with controls. The offspring showed similar body weight and fertility. In vivo, the mice became infertile if the drug was injected sequentially, and became pregnant following discontinuation of cilostazol. More importantly, no side effects of cilostazol were observed in treated female mice as demonstrated by blood pressure and heart rate monitoring. It is concluded that cilostazol, a drug routinely used for intermittent claudication, can effectively inhibit oocyte maturation in vitro and in vivo, does not affect the developmental potential of oocytes following drug removal and has few side effects in female mice treated with this drug. These findings suggest that cilostazol may be a potential new contraceptive agent that may facilitate an efficacy and safety study of this drug.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0030649

    View details for Web of Science ID 000301639600041

    View details for PubMedID 22292006

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3265514

  • Pre-ovulatory LH/hCG surge decreases C-type natriuretic peptide secretion by ovarian granulosa cells to promote meiotic resumption of pre-ovulatory oocytes HUMAN REPRODUCTION Kawamura, K., Cheng, Y., Kawamura, N., Takae, S., Okada, A., Kawagoe, Y., Mulders, S., Terada, Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2011; 26 (11): 3094-3101


    In mammalian follicles, oocytes are arrested at the diplotene stage of prophase I until meiotic resumption following the LH surge. Recently, C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), encoded by natriuretic peptide precursor type C (NPPC) was found to suppress mouse oocyte maturation by promoting cyclic guanosine 5'-monophospate (cGMP) production in cumulus cells. However, regulation of NPPC/CNP expression during the pre-ovulatory period and their regulation by the LH surge have not been investigated.Based on genome-wide analysis of DNA microarray data sets using samples from periovulatory ovaries, we found increases in NPPC transcripts in granulosa cells during pre-ovulatory follicle growth in mice and a rapid decline induced by the pre-ovulatory LH/hCG stimulation. Treatment of pre-ovulatory animals with hCG decreased ovarian CNP content. In isolated ovarian cells, NPPC mRNA was predominantly expressed in mural granulosa cells exhibiting similar regulation following gonadotrophin treatment. In cultured mouse pre-ovulatory follicles, meiosis resumption in oocytes by hCG treatment was accompanied by decreases in NPPC transcript levels. In cultured mouse cumulus cell-oocyte complexes, CNP treatment inhibited the resumption of meiosis with increases in cGMP levels in both cumulus cells and oocytes. In human ovaries, CNP levels in ovarian follicular fluid were also decreased following treatment of patients with an ovulatory dose of hCG.Our findings demonstrate gonadotrophins regulation of NPPC/CNP expression in mouse and human ovaries and confirm the role of CNP as a potent paracrine oocyte maturation inhibitor.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/humrep/der282

    View details for Web of Science ID 000296106600024

    View details for PubMedID 21865234

  • Oocyte-Expressed Interleukin 7 Suppresses Granulosa Cell Apoptosis and Promotes Oocyte Maturation in Rats BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION Cheng, Y., Yata, A., Klein, C., Cho, J., Deguchi, M., Hsueh, A. J. 2011; 84 (4): 707-714


    Development of ovarian follicles is regulated by pituitary-derived gonadotropins together with local ovarian paracrine factors. Based on DNA microarray data, we performed RT-PCR and immunostaining to demonstrate the expression of interleukin 7 transcripts in oocytes of preantral, antral, and preovulatory follicles in rats. We also found the expression of interleukin 7 receptor and the coreceptor interleukin 2 receptor gamma in granulosa cells, cumulus cells, and preovulatory oocytes. In cultured rat granulosa cells obtained from early antral and preovulatory follicles, treatment with interleukin 7 stimulated the phosphorylation of AKT, glycogen synthase kinase (GSK3B), and STAT5 proteins in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, measurement of mitochondrial reductase activity indicated that treatment with interleukin 7, similar to gonadotropins, increased the number of viable granulosa cells during a 24-h culture period. Furthermore, monitoring of the activities of apoptotic enzymes (caspase 3/7) indicated that treatment with interleukin 7 suppressed apoptosis of cultured granulosa cells from both antral and preovulatory follicles following serum withdrawal. The apoptosis-suppressing actions of interleukin 7 were blocked by an inhibitor of the phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PIK3)/AKT pathway. Furthermore, treatment of cultured preovulatory follicles with interleukin 7, like treatment with human chorionic gonadotropin, induced germinal vesicle breakdown of oocytes. The stimulatory effect of interleukin 7 was also blocked by inhibitors of the PIK3/AKT pathway. The present findings suggest that oocyte-derived interleukin 7 could act on neighboring granulosa cells as a survival factor and promote the nuclear maturation of preovulatory oocytes through activation of the PIK3/AKT pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1095/biolreprod.110.086504

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288596900012

    View details for PubMedID 21178173

  • Gonadotrophin-induced paracrine regulation of human oocyte maturation by BDNF and GDNF secreted by granulosa cells HUMAN REPRODUCTION Zhao, P., Qiao, J., Huang, S., Zhang, Y., Liu, S., Yan, L., Hsueh, A. J., Duan, E. 2011; 26 (3): 695-702


    In mammalian ovaries, diverse paracrine factors have been identified to mediate or modulate LH-induced changes during ovulation. Due to the difficulty in obtaining non-stimulated granulosa cells during IVF, little is known about the LH-induced paracrine factors in the human ovary. Based on earlier studies using murine ovarian cells showing the paracrine roles of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in promoting oocyte maturation, we investigated the expression of these ligands in human granulosa cells and their regulation of human oocyte development.Non-stimulated granulosa cells were obtained from non-stimulated IVM (in vitro maturation) patients after oocyte retrieval. Women undergoing non-stimulated IVM treatment at a mean age of 30.8 ± 1.3 (n = 10) were recruited for this study. Immature oocytes and granulosa cells were collected from IVF patients undergoing gonadotrophin stimulation and ICSI. Immunocytochemical analyses of granulosa cells were carried out to investigate expression profiles of BDNF and GDNF, together with real-time RT-PCR to analyze the gonadotrophin regulation of BDNF and GDNF transcript levels. In addition, immature oocytes were cultured to analyze the regulation of oocyte maturation by BDNF and GDNF.BDNF and GDNF were found to be expressed in non-stimulated granulosa cells. After gonadotrophin (FSH and/or hCG) treatment, transcripts levels for BDNF and GDNF were significantly increased (P < 0.05). In cultured immature oocytes, treatment with BDNF or GDNF promoted total yields of metaphase II oocytes.These findings demonstrate that FSH and hCG treatments augment the expression of BDNF and GDNF by granulosa cells and that these granulosa-cell-derived factors are candidate paracrine factors capable of promoting oocyte maturation.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/humrep/deq390

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287252800026

    View details for PubMedID 21227937

  • Activation of dormant ovarian follicles to generate mature eggs PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Li, J., Kawamura, K., Cheng, Y., Liu, S., Klein, C., Liu, S., Duan, E., Hsueh, A. J. 2010; 107 (22): 10280-10284


    Although multiple follicles are present in mammalian ovaries, most of them remain dormant for years or decades. During reproductive life, some follicles are activated for development. Genetically modified mouse models with oocyte-specific deletion of genes in the PTEN-PI3K-Akt-Foxo3 pathway exhibited premature activation of all dormant follicles. Using an inhibitor of the Phosphatase with TENsin homology deleted in chromosome 10 (PTEN) phosphatase and a PI3K activating peptide, we found that short-term treatment of neonatal mouse ovaries increased nuclear exclusion of Foxo3 in primordial oocytes. After transplantation under kidney capsules of ovariectomized hosts, treated follicles developed to the preovulatory stage with mature eggs displaying normal epigenetic changes of imprinted genes. After in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, healthy progeny with proven fertility were delivered. Human ovarian cortical fragments from cancer patients were also treated with the PTEN inhibitor. After xeno-transplantation to immune-deficient mice for 6 months, primordial follicles developed to the preovulatory stage with oocytes capable of undergoing nuclear maturation. Major differences between male and female mammals are unlimited number of sperm and paucity of mature oocytes. Thus, short-term in vitro activation of dormant ovarian follicles after stimulation of the PI3K-Akt pathway allows the generation of a large supply of mature female germ cells for future treatment of infertile women with a diminishing ovarian reserve and for cancer patients with cryo-preserved ovaries. Generation of a large number of human oocytes also facilitates future derivation of embryonic stem cells for regenerative medicine.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1001198107

    View details for Web of Science ID 000278246000066

    View details for PubMedID 20479243

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2890455

  • Autocrine regulation of early embryonic development by the artemin-GFRA3 (GDNF family receptor-alpha 3) signaling system in mice FEBS LETTERS Li, J., Klein, C., Liang, C., Rauch, R., Kawamura, K., Hsueh, A. J. 2009; 583 (15): 2479-2485


    Development of early embryos is regulated by autocrine/paracrine factors. Analyzing the expression of polypeptide ligand-receptor pairs using DNA microarray datasets, we identified transcripts for artemin, a member of the GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor) family, its receptor GFRA3 (GDNF family receptor-alpha 3) and coreceptor RET. Here we report an autocrine/paracrine role of the artemin-GFRA3 signaling system in regulating early embryonic development and apoptosis. Possible involvement of the MAP kinase signaling pathway was also demonstrated. The genome-wide survey of ligand-receptor pairs and early embryo cultures provided a better understanding of autocrine/paracrine embryonic factors important for optimal blastocyst development.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.febslet.2009.06.050

    View details for Web of Science ID 000268563500007

    View details for PubMedID 19580811

  • Paracrine regulation of the resumption of oocyte meiosis by endothelin-1 DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY Kawamura, K., Ye, Y., Liang, C. G., Kawamura, N., Gelpke, M. S., Rauch, R., Tanaka, T., Hsueh, A. J. 2009; 327 (1): 62-70


    Mammalian oocytes remain dormant in the diplotene stage of prophase I until the resumption of meiosis characterized by germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) following the preovulatory gonadotropin stimulation. Based on genome-wide analysis of peri-ovulatory DNA microarray to identify paracrine hormone-receptor pairs, we found increases in ovarian transcripts for endothelin-1 and endothelin receptor type A (EDNRA) in response to the preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH)/human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) stimulation. Immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated localization of EDNRA in granulosa and cumulus cells. In cultured preovulatory follicles, treatment with endothelin-1 promoted oocyte GVBD. The stimulatory effect of endothelin-1 was blocked by cotreatment with antagonists for the type A, but not related type B, receptor. The stimulatory effect of hCG on GVBD was partially blocked by the same antagonist. The endothelin-1 promotion of GVBD was found to be mediated by the MAPK/ERK pathway but not by the inhibitory G protein. Studies using cumulus-oocyte complexes and denuded oocytes demonstrated that the endothelin-1 actions are mediated by cumulus cells. Furthermore, intrabursal administration with endothelin-1 induced oocyte GVBD in preovulatory follicles. Our findings demonstrate a paracrine role of endothelin-1 in the induction of the resumption of meiosis and provide further understanding on the molecular mechanisms underlying the nuclear maturation of oocytes induced by the preovulatory LH surge.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.11.033

    View details for Web of Science ID 000263706200007

    View details for PubMedID 19111534

  • Neuronostatin Encoded by the Somatostatin Gene Regulates Neuronal, Cardiovascular, and Metabolic Functions JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Samson, W. K., Zhang, J. V., Avsian-Kretchmer, O., Cui, K., Yosten, G. L., Klein, C., Lyu, R., Wang, Y. X., Chen, X. Q., Yang, J., Price, C. J., Hoyda, T. D., Ferguson, A. V., Yuan, X., Chang, J. K., Hsueh, A. J. 2008; 283 (46): 31949-31959


    Somatostatin is important in the regulation of diverse neuroendocrine functions. Based on bioinformatic analyses of evolutionarily conserved sequences, we predicted another peptide hormone in pro-somatostatin and named it neuronostatin. Immuno-affinity purification allowed the sequencing of an amidated neuronostatin peptide of 13 residues from porcine tissues. In vivo treatment with neuronostatin induced c-Fos expression in gastrointestinal tissues, anterior pituitary, cerebellum, and hippocampus. In vitro treatment with neuronostatin promoted the migration of cerebellar granule cells and elicited direct depolarizing actions on paraventricular neurons in hypothalamic slices. In a gastric tumor cell line, neuronostatin induced c-Fos expression, stimulated SRE reporter activity, and promoted cell proliferation. Furthermore, intracerebroventricular treatment with neuronostatin increased blood pressure but suppressed food intake and water drinking. Our findings demonstrate diverse neuronal, neuroendocrine, and cardiovascular actions of a somatostatin gene-encoded hormone and provide the basis to investigate the physiological roles of this endogenously produced brain/gut peptide.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M804784200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000260760800077

    View details for PubMedID 18753129

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2581552

  • Obestatin induction of early-response gene expression in gastrointestinal and adipose tissues and the mediatory role of G protein-coupled receptor, GPR39 MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Zhang, J. V., Jahr, H., Luo, C., Klein, C., Van Kolen, K., Donck, L. V., De, A., Baart, E., Li, J., Moechars, D., Hsueh, A. J. 2008; 22 (6): 1464-1475


    Obestatin was identified as a brain/gut peptide hormone encoded by the ghrelin gene and found to interact with the G protein-coupled receptor, GPR39. We investigated target cells for obestatin based on induction of an early-response gene c-fos in different tissues. After ip injection of obestatin, c-fos staining was found in the nuclei of gastric mucosa, intestinal villi, white adipose tissues, hepatic cords, and kidney tubules. Immunohistochemical analyses using GPR39 antibodies further revealed cytoplasmic staining in these tissues. In cultured 3T3-L1 cells, treatment with obestatin, but not motilin, induced c-fos expression. In these preadipocytes, treatment with obestatin also stimulated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Because phenotypes of GPR39 null mice are partially consistent with a role of GPR39 in mediating obestatin actions, we hypothesized that inconsistencies on the binding of iodinated obestatin to GPR39 are due to variations in the bioactivity of iodinated obestatin. We obtained monoiodoobestatin after HPLC purification and demonstrated its binding to jejunum, stomach, ileum, pituitary, and white adipose tissue. Furthermore, human embryonic kidney 293T cells transfected with plasmids encoding human or mouse GPR39 or a human GPR39 isoform, but not the ghrelin receptor, exhibited high-affinity binding to monoiodoobestatin. Binding studies using jejunum homogenates and recombinant GPR39 revealed obestatin-specific displacement curves. Furthermore, treatment with obestatin induced c-fos expression in gastric mucosa of wild-type, but not GPR39 null, mice, underscoring a mediating role of this receptor in obestatin actions. The present findings indicate that obestatin is a metabolic hormone capable of binding to GPR39 to regulate the functions of diverse gastrointestinal and adipose tissues.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2007-0569

    View details for Web of Science ID 000256307800016

    View details for PubMedID 18337590

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5419543

  • Gonadotropin stimulation of ovarian fractalkine expression and fractalkine augmentation of progesterone biosynthesis by luteinizing granulosa cells ENDOCRINOLOGY Zhao, P., De, A., Hu, Z., Li, J., Mulders, S. M., Gelpke, M. D., Duan, E., Hsueh, A. J. 2008; 149 (6): 2782-2789


    Recent studies indicated that ovarian functions are regulated by diverse paracrine factors induced by the preovulatory increases in circulating LH. Based on DNA microarray analyses and real-time RT-PCR, we found a major increase in the transcript levels of a chemokine fractalkine after human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) treatment during the preovulatory period in gonadotropin-primed immature mice and rats. Although CX3CR1, the seven-transmembrane receptor for fractalkine, was also found in murine ovaries, its transcripts displayed minimal changes. Using tandem RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry, fractalkine transcripts and proteins were localized in cumulus, mural granulosa, and theca cells as well as the oocytes, whereas CX3CR1 was found in the same cells except the oocyte. Real-time RT-PCR further indicated the hCG induction of fractalkine transcripts in different ovarian compartments, with the highest increases found in granulosa cells. In cultured granulosa cells, treatment with fractalkine augmented hCG stimulation of progesterone but not estradiol and cAMP biosynthesis with concomitant increases in transcript levels for key steroidogenic enzymes (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, CYP11A, and 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase). In cultured preovulatory follicles, treatment with fractalkine also augmented progesterone production stimulated by hCG. Furthermore, treatment with fractalkine augmented the phosphorylation of P38 MAPK in cultured granulosa cells. The present data demonstrated that increases in preovulatory LH/hCG induce the expression of fractalkine to augment the luteinization of preovulatory granulosa cells and suggest the fractalkine/CX3CR1 signaling system plays a potential paracrine/autocrine role in preovulatory follicles.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/en.2007-1662

    View details for Web of Science ID 000256053100015

    View details for PubMedID 18292196

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2408816

  • Completion of Meiosis I of preovulatory oocytes and facilitation of preimplantation embryo development by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY Kawamura, K., Ye, Y., Kawamura, N., Jing, L., Groenen, P., Gelpke, M. S., Rauch, R., Hsueh, A. J., Tanaka, T. 2008; 315 (1): 189-202


    Optimal maturation of oocytes and successful development of preimplantation embryos is essential for reproduction. We performed DNA microarray analyses of ovarian transcripts and identified glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) secreted by cumulus, granulosa, and theca cells as an ovarian factor stimulated by the preovulatory LH/hCG surge. Treatment of cumulus-oocyte complexes with GDNF enhanced first polar body extrusion with increase in cyclin B1 synthesis and the GDNF actions are likely mediated by its receptor GDNF family receptor-alpha1 (GFRA1) and a co-receptor ret proto-oncogene (Ret), both expressed in oocytes. However, treatment with GDNF did not affect germinal vesicle breakdown and cytoplasmic maturation of oocytes. During the preimplantation stages, GDNF was expressed in pregnant oviducts and uteri, whereas GFRA1 and Ret were expressed in embryos throughout early development with an increase after the early blastocyst stage. In blastocysts, both GDNF and GFRA1 were exclusively localized in trophectoderm cells, whereas Ret was detected in both cell lineages. Treatment with GDNF promoted the development of two-cell-stage embryos into blastocysts showing increased cell proliferation and decreased apoptosis mainly in trophectoderm cells. Our findings suggest potential paracrine roles of GDNF in the promotion of completion of meiosis I and the development of early embryos.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.12.029

    View details for Web of Science ID 000253750300015

    View details for PubMedID 18234170

  • Regulation of preimplantation embryo development by brain-derived neurotrophic factor DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY Kawamura, K., Kawamura, N., Fukuda, J., Kumagai, J., Hsueh, A. J., Tanaka, T. 2007; 311 (1): 147-158


    Hormonal factors secreted by embryos and reproductive tracts are important for successful development of preimplantation embryos. We found expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-4/5 (NT-4/5) transcripts at its highest levels in the blastocyst stages. The transcripts for their receptor, TrkB, were detectable throughout the early embryonic stages with an increase after the early blastocyst stage. Both BDNF and TrkB are expressed in trophectoderm cells, whereas ligand-binding studies indicated specific binding of BDNF to trophectoderm cells. Furthermore, BDNF and NT-4/5 were produced in pregnant oviducts and uteri. Treatment with BDNF promoted the development of two-cell-stage embryos into blastocysts showing increased proliferation and decreased apoptosis. The effects of BDNF were blocked by the TrkB ectodomain or a Trk receptor inhibitor, K252a. Studies using specific inhibitors demonstrated the roles of the PI3K, but not the ERK, pathway in mediating BDNF actions. Under high-density embryo cultures, treatment with the TrkB ectodomain or K252a alone also inhibited embryonic development and survival, suggesting potential autocrine actions of BDNF produced by the embryo. In vivo experiments further demonstrated that K252a treatment suppressed early embryo development by inhibiting blastocyst cell numbers, and increasing blastocyst apoptosis. Our findings suggested that BDNF signaling plays important paracrine roles during blastocyst development by promoting the development of preimplantation embryos.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.08.026

    View details for Web of Science ID 000250703700012

    View details for PubMedID 17880937

  • Matching receptome genes with their ligands for surveying paracrine/autocrine signaling systems MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Ben-Shlomo, I., Rauch, R., Avsian-Kretchmer, O., Hsueh, A. J. 2007; 21 (8): 2009-2014


    Sequencing of genomes from diverse organisms facilitates studies on the repertoire of genes involved in intercellular signaling. Extending previous efforts to annotate most human plasma membrane receptors in the Human Plasma Membrane Receptome database, we matched cognate ligands with individual receptors by surveying the published literature. In the updated online database we called "liganded receptome," users can search for individual ligands or receptors to reveal their pairing partners and browse through receptor or ligand families to identify relationships between ligands and receptors in their respective families. Because local signaling systems are prevalent in diverse normal and diseased tissues, we used the liganded receptome knowledgebase to interrogate DNA microarray datasets for genome-wide analyses of potential paracrine/autocrine signaling systems. In addition to viewing ligand-receptor coexpression based on precomputed DNA microarray data, users can submit their own microarray data to perform online genome-wide searches for putative paracrine/autocrine signaling systems. Investigation of transcriptome data based on liganded receptome allows the discovery of paracrine/autocrine signaling for known ligand-receptor pairs in previously uncharacterized tissues or developmental stages. The present annotation of ligand-receptor pairs also identifies orphan receptors and ligands without known interacting partners in select families. Because hormonal ligands within the same family usually interact with paralogous receptors, this genomic approach could also facilitate matching of orphan receptors and ligands. The liganded receptome is accessible at

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2007-0087

    View details for Web of Science ID 000248324600020

    View details for PubMedID 17550980

  • Intraovarian tumor necrosis factor-related weak inducer of apoptosis/fibroblast growth factor-inducible-14 ligand-receptor system limits ovarian preovulatory follicles from excessive luteinization MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY De, A., Park, J., Kawamura, K., Chen, R., Klein, C., Rauch, R., Mulders, S. M., Gelpke, M. D., Hsueh, A. J. 2006; 20 (10): 2528-2538


    In addition to gonadotropins, many ovarian paracrine factors are crucial for optimal follicle rupture, oocyte maturation, and luteinization. Based on DNA microarray analyses, we found that transcripts for the fibroblast growth factor-inducible-14 (Fn14) receptor are increased after LH/human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) treatment of gonadotropin-primed immature mice or rats. Fn14 is the cognate receptor for TNF-related weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK), a TNF superfamily member. TWEAK transcripts also were detected in the ovary; however, their levels were not regulated by gonadotropins. In situ hybridization analyses indicated that the Fn14 receptor is expressed in the granulosa and cumulus cells of preovulatory follicles and, to a lesser extent, in theca cells. In contrast, in situ hybridization analyses revealed that TWEAK is primarily expressed in theca cells. In cultured granulosa cells pretreated with hCG to induce Fn14 receptor expression, treatment with TWEAK suppressed progesterone synthesis without accompanying changes in cAMP production. Furthermore, intrabursal injection of TWEAK suppressed ovarian progesterone content in gonadotropin-primed rats. In contrast, preovulatory follicles cultured in the presence of the Fn14 decoy, a recombinant protein containing the ligand-binding domain of Fn14, led to increases in progesterone production, presumably by antagonizing the actions of endogenous TWEAK. Likewise, ip injection of the Fn14 decoy enhanced serum progesterone levels with accompanying increases in transcript levels for several key steroidogenic enzymes. The present findings demonstrate a suppressive role of the TWEAK/Fn14 signaling system in the ovary. Following gonadotropin induction of ovulation, Fn14 is induced and could protect preovulatory follicles from excessive luteinization.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2006-0028

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240785100022

    View details for PubMedID 16762976

  • Genomic analyses facilitate identification of receptors and signalling pathways for growth differentiation factor 9 and related orphan bone morphogenetic protein/growth differentiation factor ligands HUMAN REPRODUCTION UPDATE Mazerbourg, S., Hsueh, A. J. 2006; 12 (4): 373-383


    Recent advances in genomic sequencing allow a new paradigm in hormonal research, and a comparative genomic approach facilitates the identification of receptors and signalling mechanisms for orphan ligands of the transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) superfamily. Instead of purifying growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) receptor proteins for identification, we hypothesized that GDF9, like other ligands in the TGFbeta family, activates type II and type I serine/threonine kinase receptors. Because searches of the human genome for genes with sequence homology to known serine/threonine kinase receptors failed to reveal uncharacterized receptor genes, GDF9 likely interacts with the known type II and type I activin receptor-like kinase (ALK) receptors in granulosa cells. We found that co-treatment with the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type II receptor (BMPRII) ectodomain blocks GDF9 activity. Likewise, in a GDF9-non-responsive cell line, overexpression of ALK5, but none of the other six type I receptors, conferred GDF9 responsiveness. The roles of BMPRII and ALK5 as receptors for GDF9 were validated in granulosa cells using gene "knock-down" approaches. Furthermore, we demonstrated the roles of BMPRII, ALK3 and ALK6 as the receptors for the orphan ligands GDF6, GDF7 and BMP10. Thus, evolutionary tracing of polypeptide ligands, receptors and downstream signalling molecules in their respective 'subgenomes' facilitates a new approach for hormonal research.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/humupd/dml014

    View details for Web of Science ID 000238537800005

    View details for PubMedID 16603567

  • Genomic analyses of the evolution of LGR genes. Chang Gung medical journal Luo, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2006; 29 (1): 2-8


    Recent completion of the sequencing of genomes from several mammals, teleosts and invertebrates has shown that G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are one of the conserved groups of cell surface receptors with an ancient origin. GPCRs play important roles in diverse physiological functions and are the most important targets for pharmaceutical discoveries. Recent work based on the search for gene with structural similarity to LH, FSH and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) receptors in diverse genomes has led to the identification of a group of GPCRs called Leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled Receptor (LGR). We present the genomic analyses of the evolution of LGR genes in the literature.

    View details for PubMedID 16642723

  • Hormonology: a genomic perspective on hormonal research JOURNAL OF ENDOCRINOLOGY Hsueh, A. J., Bouchard, P., Ben-Shlomo, I. 2005; 187 (3): 333-338


    Recent advances in comparative genomics allow a new paradigm for hormonal research. At the centennial of the first use of the term hormone by Ernest Starling, we reflected on the changing approaches in elucidating hormonal signaling mechanisms and highlighted the inadequacy of the term endocrinology, implying remote activation, to describe the diverse modes of hormone actions. Several examples were presented to underscore the power of comparative genomics in the identification of new polypeptide hormones, receptors, and signaling pathways. We propose the use of the term hormonology to more accurately reflect the expanding boundaries of the discipline.

    View details for DOI 10.1677/joe.1.06372

    View details for Web of Science ID 000234210200003

    View details for PubMedID 16423812

  • Obestatin, a peptide encoded by the ghrelin gene, opposes ghrelin's effects on food intake SCIENCE Zhang, J. V., Ren, P. G., Avsian-Kretchmer, O., Luo, C. W., Rauch, R., Klein, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2005; 310 (5750): 996-999


    Ghrelin, a circulating appetite-inducing hormone, is derived from a prohormone by posttranslational processing. On the basis of the bioinformatic prediction that another peptide also derived from proghrelin exists, we isolated a hormone from rat stomach and named it obestatin-a contraction of obese, from the Latin "obedere," meaning to devour, and "statin," denoting suppression. Contrary to the appetite-stimulating effects of ghrelin, treatment of rats with obestatin suppressed food intake, inhibited jejunal contraction, and decreased body-weight gain. Obestatin bound to the orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPR39. Thus, two peptide hormones with opposing action in weight regulation are derived from the same ghrelin gene. After differential modification, these hormones activate distinct receptors.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1117255

    View details for Web of Science ID 000233343400037

    View details for PubMedID 16284174

  • Identification of receptors and signaling pathways for orphan bone morphogenetic protein/growth differentiation factor ligands based on genomic analyses JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Mazerbourg, S., Sangkuhl, K., Luo, C. W., Sudo, S., Klein, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2005; 280 (37): 32122-32132


    There are more than 30 human transforming growth factor beta/bone morphogenetic protein/growth differentiation factor (TGFbeta/BMP/GDF)-related ligands known to be important during embryonic development, organogenesis, bone formation, reproduction, and other physiological processes. Although select TGFbeta/BMP/GDF proteins were found to interact with type II and type I serine/threonine receptors to activate downstream Smad and other proteins, the receptors and signaling pathways for one-third of these TGFbeta/BMP/GDF paralogs are still unclear. Based on a genomic analysis of the entire repertoire of TGFbeta/BMP/GDF ligands and serine/threonine kinase receptors, we tested the ability of three orphan BMP/GDF ligands to activate a limited number of phylogenetically related receptors. We characterized the dimeric nature of recombinant GDF6 (also known as BMP13), GDF7 (also known as BMP12), and BMP10. We demonstrated their bioactivities based on the activation of Smad1/5/8-, but not Smad2/3-, responsive promoter constructs in the MC3T3 cell line. Furthermore, we showed their ability to induce the phosphorylation of Smad1, but not Smad2, in these cells. In COS7 cells transfected with the seven known type I receptors, overexpression of ALK3 or ALK6 conferred ligand signaling by GDF6, GDF7, and BMP10. In contrast, transfection of MC3T3 cells with ALK3 small hairpin RNA suppressed Smad signaling induced by all three ligands. Based on the coevolution of ligands and receptors, we also tested the role of BMPRII and ActRIIA as the type II receptor candidates for the three orphan ligands. We found that transfection of small hairpin RNA for BMPRII and ActRIIA in MC3T3 cells suppressed the signaling of GDF6, GDF7, and BMP10. Thus, the present approach provides a genomic paradigm for matching paralogous polypeptide ligands with a limited number of evolutionarily related receptors capable of activating specific downstream Smad proteins.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M504629200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000231794800012

    View details for PubMedID 16049014

  • Heterodimeric fly glycoprotein hormone-alpha 2 (GPA2) and glycoprotein hormone-beta 5 (GPB5) activate fly leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor-1 (DLGR1) and stimulation of human thyrotropin receptors by chimeric fly GPA2 and human GPB5 ENDOCRINOLOGY Sudo, S., Kuwabara, Y., Park, J. I., Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2005; 146 (8): 3596-3604


    Glycoprotein hormones play important roles in thyroid and gonadal function in vertebrates. The glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit forms heterodimers with different beta-subunits to activate TSH or gonadotropin (LH and FSH) receptors. Recent genomic analyses allowed the identification of another alpha-subunit, GPA2, and another beta-subunit, GPB5, in human, capable of forming heterodimers to activate TSH receptors. Based on comparative genomic searches, we isolated the fly orthologs for human GPA2 and GPB5, each consisting of 10 cysteine residues likely involved in cystine-knot formation. RT-PCR analyses in Drosophila melanogaster demonstrated the expression of GPA2 and GPB5 at different developmental stages. Immunoblot analyses further showed that fly GPA2 and GPB5 subunit proteins are of approximately 16 kDa, and coexpression of these subunits yielded heterodimers. Purified recombinant fly GPA2/GPB5 heterodimers were found to be glycoproteins with N-linked glycosylated alpha-subunits and nonglycosylated beta-subunits, capable of stimulating cAMP production mediated by fly orphan receptor DLGR1 but not DLGR2. Although the fly GPA2/GPB5 heterodimers did not activate human TSH or gonadotropin receptors, chimeric fly GPA2/human GPB5 heterodimers stimulated human TSH receptors. These findings indicated that fly GPA2/GPB5 is a ligand for DLGR1, thus showing the ancient origin of this glycoprotein hormone-seven transmembrane receptor-G protein signaling system. The fly GPA2 also could form heterodimers with human GPB5 to activate human TSH receptors, indicating the evolutionary conservation of these genes and suggesting that the GPA2 subunit may serve as a scaffold for the beta-subunit to activate downstream G protein-mediated signaling.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/en.2005-0317

    View details for Web of Science ID 000230427400044

    View details for PubMedID 15890769

  • Ovarian brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promotes the development of oocytes into preimplantation embryos PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Kawamura, K., Kawamura, N., Mulders, S. M., Gelpke, M. D., Hsueh, A. J. 2005; 102 (26): 9206-9211


    Optimal development of fertilized eggs into preimplantation embryos is essential for reproduction. Although mammalian oocytes ovulated after luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulation can be fertilized and promoted into early embryos in vitro, little is known about ovarian factors important for the conditioning of eggs for early embryo development. Because LH interacts only with ovarian somatic cells, its potential regulation of oocyte functions is presumably mediated by local paracrine factors. We performed DNA microarray analyses of ovarian transcripts and identified brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) secreted by granulosa and cumulus cells as an ovarian factor stimulated by the preovulatory LH surge. Ovarian BDNF acts on TrkB receptors expressed exclusively in oocytes to enhance first polar body extrusion of oocytes and to promote the in vitro development of zygotes into preimplantation embryos. Furthermore, in vivo treatment with a Trk receptor inhibitor suppressed first polar body extrusion and the progression of zygotes into blastocysts. Thus, ovarian BDNF is important to nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation of the oocyte, which is essential for successful oocyte development into preimplantation embryos. Treatment with BDNF could condition the cultured oocytes for optimal progression into the totipotent blastocysts.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0502442102

    View details for Web of Science ID 000230191400023

    View details for PubMedID 15967989

  • Three's company: Two or more unrelated receptors pair with the same ligand MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Ben-Shlomo, I., Hsueh, A. J. 2005; 19 (5): 1097-1109


    Intercellular communication relies on signal transduction mediated by extracellular ligands and their receptors. Although the ligand-receptor interaction is usually a two-player event, there are selective examples of one polypeptide ligand interacting with more than one phylogenetically unrelated receptor. Likewise, a few receptors interact with more than one polypeptide ligand, and sometimes with more than one coreceptor, likely through an interlocking of unique protein domains. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that for certain triumvirates, the matching events could have taken place at different evolutionary times. In contrast to a few polypeptide ligands interacting with more than one receptor, we found that many small nonpeptide ligands have been paired with two or more plasma membrane receptors, nuclear receptors, or channels. The observation that many small ligands are paired with more than one receptor type highlights the utilitarian use of a limited number of cellular components during metazoan evolution. These conserved ligands are ubiquitous cell metabolites likely favored by natural selection to establish novel regulatory networks. They likely possess structural features useful for designing agonistic and antagonistic drugs to target diverse receptors.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2004-0451

    View details for Web of Science ID 000228663900001

    View details for PubMedID 15695369

  • Bursicon, the insect cuticle-hardening hormone, is a heterodimeric cystine knot protein that activates G protein-coupled receptor LGR2 PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Luo, C. W., Dewey, E. M., Sudo, S., Ewer, J., Hsu, S. Y., Honegger, H. W., Hsueh, A. J. 2005; 102 (8): 2820-2825


    All arthropods periodically molt to replace their exoskeleton (cuticle). Immediately after shedding the old cuticle, the neurohormone bursicon causes the hardening and darkening of the new cuticle. Here we show that bursicon, to our knowledge the first heterodimeric cystine knot hormone found in insects, consists of two proteins encoded by the genes burs and pburs (partner of burs). The pburs/burs heterodimer from Drosophila melanogaster binds with high affinity and specificity to activate the G protein-coupled receptor DLGR2, leading to the stimulation of cAMP signaling in vitro and tanning in neck-ligated blowflies. Native bursicon from Periplaneta americana is also a heterodimer. In D. melanogaster the levels of pburs, burs, and DLGR2 transcripts are increased before ecdysis, consistent with their role in postecdysial cuticle changes. Immunohistochemical analyses in diverse insect species revealed the colocalization of pburs- and burs-immunoreactivity in some of the neurosecretory neurons that also express crustacean cardioactive peptide. Forty-three years after its initial description, the elucidation of the molecular identity of bursicon and the verification of its receptor allow for studies of bursicon actions in regulating cuticle tanning, wing expansion, and as yet unknown functions. Because bursicon subunit genes are homologous to the vertebrate bone morphogenetic protein antagonists, our findings also facilitate investigation on the function of these proteins during vertebrate development.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0409916102

    View details for Web of Science ID 000227232400029

    View details for PubMedID 15703293

  • FOXL2 is a transcriptional repressor of enzymes involved in the steroidogenic cascade. 52nd Annual Meeting of the Society-for-Gynecologic-Investigation Pisarska, M. D., Kao, L., Bae, J., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2005: 296A–297A
  • Relaxin research in the postgenomic era 4th International Conference on Relaxin and Related Peptides Kawamura, K., Sudo, S., Kumagai, J., Pisarska, M., Hsu, S. Y., Bathgate, R., Wade, J., Hsueh, A. J. NEW YORK ACAD SCIENCES. 2005: 1–7


    Because of the coevolution of ligands and their cognate receptors, analysis of human genomic sequences allows prediction of the pairing of these elements. Initially, we identified a group of five human leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein-coupled receptor (LGR) genes homologous to LH, FSH, and TSH receptors. Based on common phenotypes of INSL3 null mice and transgenic mice with LGR8 gene deletion, we hypothesized that INSL3, relaxin, and related genes are likely ligands for the paralogous LGR7 and LGR8 genes. Matching the relaxin family peptides with these two orphan LGRs led to the finding that relaxin is capable of activating LGR7 and LGR8 through the Gs pathway. In addition, INSL3 and relaxin 3 were found to be specific ligands for LGR8 and LGR7, respectively. Based on the known production of INLS3 by testicular Leydig cells and ovarian theca cells, we demonstrated the expression of the INSL3 receptor LGR8 in oocytes in ovary and in male germ cells in the testis. Furthermore, we found that LH stimulates INSL3 transcripts in ovarian theca and testicular Leydig cells. INSL3, in turn, binds LGR8 expressed in germ cells to initiate the meiotic progression of arrested oocytes in preovulatory follicles in vitro and in vivo and to suppress male germ cell apoptosis in vivo. INSL3 interacts with germ cells to activate the inhibitory G protein, thus leading to decreases in cAMP production. Our data demonstrate the importance of the INSL3-LGR8 paracrine system in mediating gonadotropic actions in both ovary and testis.

    View details for DOI 10.1196/annals.1282.001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000231831000002

    View details for PubMedID 15956679

  • Identification of a stanniocalcin paralog, stanniocalcin-2, in fish and the paracrine actions of stanniocalcin-2 in the mammalian ovary ENDOCRINOLOGY Luo, C. W., Pisarska, M. D., Hsueh, A. J. 2005; 146 (1): 469-476


    Stanniocalcin is a glycoprotein hormone important in the maintenance of calcium and phosphate homeostasis in fish. Two related mammalian stanniocalcin genes, STC1 and STC2, were found to be expressed in various tissues as paracrine regulators. We have demonstrated the existence of a second stanniocalcin gene in fish, designated fish STC2, with only 30% identity to fish STC1. However, phylogenetic analysis and comparison of the genomic structure of STC genes in vertebrates indicated that STC1 and STC2 genes were probably derived from a common ancestor gene. Based on the prominent expression of mammalian STC1 in the ovary, we tested STC2 expression in rat ovary and the regulation of STC2 expression by gonadotropins. Treatment of immature rats with pregnant mare serum gonadotropin increased STC2 transcripts, whereas subsequent treatment with human chorionic gonadotropin suppressed STC2 expression. Real-time PCR analyses also demonstrated that STC2 is expressed mainly in thecal layers. In situ hybridization studies also revealed that STC2 is expressed in thecal cell layers of antral and preovulatory follicles after gonadotropin stimulation. To elucidate the physiological functions of STC2, recombinant human and fish STC2 proteins were generated and found to be N-glycosylated homodimers. In cultured granulosa cells, treatment with human or fish STC2 suppressed FSH-induced progesterone, but not estradiol or cAMP, production. The STC2 suppression of progesterone production was associated with the inhibition of FSH-induced CYP11A and 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase expression. Thus, STC2 is a functional homodimeric glycoprotein, and thecal cell-derived STC2 could play a paracrine role during follicular development.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/en.2004-1197

    View details for Web of Science ID 000225766500062

    View details for PubMedID 15486227

  • Neonatal lethality of LGR5 null mice is associated with ankyloglossia and gastrointestinal distension MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY Morita, H., Mazerbourg, S., Bouley, D. M., Luo, C. W., Kawamura, K., Kuwabara, Y., Baribault, H., Tian, H., Hsueh, A. J. 2004; 24 (22): 9736-9743


    The physiological role of an orphan G protein-coupled receptor, LGR5, was investigated by targeted deletion of this seven-transmembrane protein containing a large N-terminal extracellular domain with leucine-rich repeats. LGR5 null mice exhibited 100% neonatal lethality characterized by gastrointestinal tract dilation with air and an absence of milk in the stomach. Gross and histological examination revealed fusion of the tongue to the floor of oral cavity in the mutant newborns and immunostaining of LGR5 expression in the epithelium of the tongue and in the mandible of the wild-type embryos. The observed ankyloglossia phenotype provides a model for understanding the genetic basis of this craniofacial defect in humans and an opportunity to elucidate the physiological role of the LGR5 signaling system during embryonic development.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/MCB.24.22.9736-9743.2004

    View details for Web of Science ID 000224823300004

    View details for PubMedID 15509778

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC525477

  • Leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptor 4 null mice exhibit intrauterine growth retardation associated with embryonic and perinatal lethality MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Mazerbourg, S., Bouley, D. M., Sudo, S., Klein, C. A., Zhang, J. V., Kawamura, K., Goodrich, L. V., Rayburn, H., Tessier-Lavigne, M., Hsueh, A. J. 2004; 18 (9): 2241-2254


    Leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptors (LGRs) belong to the largest mammalian superfamily of proteins with seven-transmembrane domains. LGRs can be divided into three subgroups based on their unique domain arrangement. Although two subgroups have been found to be receptors for glycoprotein hormones and relaxin-related ligands, respectively, the third LGR subgroup, consisting of LGR4-6, are orphan receptors with unknown physiological roles. To elucidate the functions of this subgroup of LGRs, LGR4 null mice were generated using a secretory trap approach to delete the majority of the LGR4 gene after the insertion of a beta-galactosidase reporter gene immediately after exon 1. Tissues expressing LGR4 were analyzed based on histochemical staining of the transgene driven by the endogenous LGR4 promoter. LGR4 was widely expressed in kidney, adrenal gland, stomach, intestine, heart, bone/cartilage, and other tissues. The expression of LGR4 in these tissues was further confirmed by immunohistochemical studies in wild-type animals. Analysis of the viability of 250 newborn animals suggested a skewed inheritance pattern, indicating that only 40% of the expected LGR4 null mice were born. For the LGR4 null mice viable at birth, most of them died within 2 d. Furthermore, the LGR4 null mice showed intrauterine growth retardation as reflected by a 14% decrease in body weight at birth, together with 30% and 40% decreases in kidney and liver weights, respectively. The present findings demonstrate the widespread expression of LGR4, and an essential role of LGR4 for embryonic growth, as well as kidney and liver development. The observed pre- and postnatal lethality of LGR4 null mice illustrates the importance of the LGR4 signaling system for the survival and growth of animals during the perinatal stage.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2004-0133

    View details for Web of Science ID 000223540900009

    View details for PubMedID 15192078

  • Paracrine regulation of ovarian granulosa cell differentiation by stanniocalcin (STC) 1: Mediation through specific STC1 receptors MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Luo, C. W., Kawamura, K., Klein, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2004; 18 (8): 2085-2096


    Stanniocalcin (STC) in fish maintains calcium and phosphate homeostasis, whereas mammalian STC1 shows a diverse tissue expression pattern with ovary exhibiting the highest level. Based on the known expression of STC1 in theca/interstitial cells of the ovary, we generated recombinant N-glycosylated STC1 protein and tested its ability to modulate granulosa cell differentiation. In cultured rat granulosa cells obtained from early antral follicles, treatment with STC1 suppressed FSH-stimulated progesterone biosynthesis with minimal effects on estradiol and cAMP production. In mature granulosa cells, treatment with STC1 also suppressed human chorionic gonadotropin-induced progesterone production. The inhibitory effect of STC1 was accompanied by a pronounced suppression of the CYP11A transcripts and the FSH induction of functional LH receptors. In addition, STC1 was found to act downstream of adenyl cyclases in suppressing progesterone biosynthesis. We also tested the regulation of STC1 gene expression by gonadotropins. Treatment with pregnant mare serum gonadotropin decreased STC1 transcript levels in theca cells of maturing follicles, whereas subsequent treatment with human chorionic gonadotropin led to sustained suppression in the corpora lutea. Using radiolabeled recombinant STC1, receptor assays showed specific STC1 binding with a high affinity to granulosa cells. Because STC1 is expressed in ovarian theca/interstitial cells, the present demonstration of receptor binding and the specific actions of STC1 in granulosa cells suggest the existence of a follicular paracrine system in which theca cell-derived STC1 dampens the gonadotropin stimulation of granulosa cell differentiation. The observed STC1 suppression of progesterone, but not estradiol, production further suggests the potential role of this paracrine hormone as a luteinization inhibitor.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2004-0066

    View details for Web of Science ID 000222907600018

    View details for PubMedID 15131261

  • Forkhead L2 is expressed in the ovary and represses the promoter activity of the steroidogenic acute regulatory gene ENDOCRINOLOGY Pisarska, M. D., Bae, J., Klein, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2004; 145 (7): 3424-3433


    Premature ovarian failure in a subgroup of women with blepharophimosis-ptosis-epicanthus inversus type 1 syndrome has been associated with nonsense mutations in the gene encoding a Forkhead transcription factor, Forkhead L2 (FOXL2). However, the exact function of FOXL2 in the ovary is unclear. We investigated the expression of FOXL2 in the mouse ovary during follicular development and maturation by RT-PCR and in situ hybridization. The FOXL2 mRNA is expressed in ovaries throughout development and adulthood and is localized to the undifferentiated granulosa cells in small and medium follicles as well as cumulus cells of preovulatory follicles. FOXL2 belongs to a group of transcription factors capable of interacting with specific DNA sequences in diverse gene promoters. With the presence of multiple putative forkhead DNA consensus sites, the promoter of the human steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) gene was used to test for regulation by FOXL2. Cotransfection studies revealed that wild-type FOXL2 represses the activity of the StAR promoter, and the first 95 bp upstream of the transcriptional start site of the StAR gene is sufficient for FOXL2 repression. EMSAs confirmed that FOXL2 interacts directly with this region. Analyses using FOXL2 mutants also demonstrated the importance of the entire alanine/proline-rich carboxyl terminus of FOXL2 for transcriptional repression. Furthermore, these mutations produce a protein with a dominant-negative effect that disables the transcriptional repressor activity of wild-type FOXL2. Dominant-negative mutations of FOXL2 could increase expression of StAR and other follicle differentiation genes in small and medium follicles to accelerate follicle development, resulting in increased initial recruitment of dormant follicles and thus the premature ovarian failure phenotype.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/en.2003-1141

    View details for Web of Science ID 000222043900048

    View details for PubMedID 15059956

  • Protein related to DAN and cerberus is a bone morphogenetic protein antagonist that participates in ovarian paracrine regulation JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Sudo, S., Avsian-Kretchmer, O., Wang, L. S., Hsueh, A. J. 2004; 279 (22): 23134-23141


    Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are important for body patterning and morphogenesis, whereas several BMP antagonists regulate the functions of BMPs during embryonic development and tissue differentiation. Protein related to DAN and cerberus (PRDC) is a secreted protein with a cystine knot structure identified by gene trapping in embryonic stem cells. Although PRDC shows sequence homology with proteins of the BMP antagonist family, its biological activity and physiological functions are unclear. We generated recombinant PRDC and its paralog, gremlin, and tested their ability to suppress actions initiated by diverse BMP proteins. Similar to the known BMP antagonist, gremlin, PRDC blocked ligand signaling induced by BMP2 and BMP4 but had minimal effects on reporter gene activation induced by GDF-9, activin, or transforming growth factor-beta. Co-precipitation assays further demonstrated the direct protein-protein interactions between PRDC and BMP2 or BMP4. Reverse transcriptase-PCR analyses indicated that PRDC transcripts are widely expressed showing higher levels in ovary, brain, and spleen. In mouse ovary, PRDC transcripts were increased following gonadotropin treatment. In situ hybridization analyses further indicated that ovarian PRDC transcripts are localized in granulosa cells of selective follicles. In addition, co-treatment with PRDC antagonized the inhibitory effects of BMP4 on the follicle-stimulating hormone stimulation of progesterone production by cultured rat granulosa cells. Thus, PRDC is a potent BMP antagonist with a wide tissue expression pattern, and ovarian PRDC expressed in granulosa cells could be involved in follicular development by antagonizing the actions of theca cell-derived BMPs.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M402376200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000221570900043

    View details for PubMedID 15039429

  • Paracrine regulation of mammalian oocyte maturation and male germ cell survival PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Kawamura, K., Kumagai, J., Sudo, S., Chun, S. Y., Pisarska, M., Morita, H., Toppari, J., Fu, P., Wade, J. D., Bathgate, R. A., Hsueh, A. J. 2004; 101 (19): 7323-7328


    Mammalian oocytes are arrested at the prophase of meiosis before induction of maturation by the preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. LH also promotes the survival of meiotic male germ cells in the testis. Because LH binds somatic cells, the mechanism underlying its regulation of germ cell function is unclear. We found that LH stimulates Leydig insulin-like 3 (INSL3) transcripts in ovarian theca and testicular Leydig cells. INSL3, in turn, binds a G protein-coupled receptor, LGR8 (leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 8), expressed in germ cells to activate the inhibitory G protein, thus leading to decreases in cAMP production. Treatment with INSL3 initiates meiotic progression of arrested oocytes in preovulatory follicles in vitro and in vivo and suppresses male germ cell apoptosis in vivo, thus demonstrating the importance of the INSL3-LGR8 paracrine system in mediating gonadotropin actions.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0307061101

    View details for Web of Science ID 000221559100023

    View details for PubMedID 15123806

  • Growth differentiation factor-9 signaling is mediated by the type I receptor, activin receptor-like kinase 5 MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Mazerbourg, S., Klein, C., Roh, J., Kaivo-Oja, N., Mottershead, D. G., Korchynskyi, O., Ritvos, O., Hsueh, A. J. 2004; 18 (3): 653-665


    Growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9) is an oocyte-derived growth factor and a member of the TGF-beta superfamily that includes TGF-beta, activin, and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). GDF-9 is indispensable for the development of ovarian follicles from the primary stage, and treatment with GDF-9 enhances the progression of early follicles into small preantral follicles. Similar to other TGF-beta family ligands, GDF-9 likely initiates signaling mediated by type I and type II receptors with serine/threonine kinase activity, followed by the phosphorylation of intracellular transcription factors named Smads. We have shown previously that GDF-9 interacts with the BMP type II receptor (BMPRII) in granulosa cells, but the type I receptor involved is unknown. Using P19 cells, we now report that GDF-9 treatment stimulated the CAGA-luciferase reporter known to be responsive to TGF-beta mediated by the type I receptor, activin receptor-like kinase (ALK)5. In contrast, GDF-9 did not stimulate BMP-responsive reporters. In addition, treatment with GDF-9 induced the phosphorylation of Smad2 and Smad3 in P19 cells, and the stimulatory effect of GDF-9 on the CAGA-luciferase reporter was blocked by the inhibitory Smad7, but not Smad6. We further reconstructed the GDF-9 signaling pathway using Cos7 cells that are not responsive to GDF-9. After overexpression of ALK5, with or without exogenous Smad3, the Cos7 cells gained GDF-9 responsiveness based on the CAGA-luciferase reporter assay. The roles of ALK5 and downstream pathway genes in mediating GDF-9 actions were further tested in ovarian cells. In cultured rat granulosa cells from early antral follicles, treatment with GDF-9 stimulated the CAGA-luciferase reporter activity and induced the phosphorylation of Smad3. Furthermore, transfection with small interfering RNA for ALK5 or overexpression of the inhibitory Smad7 resulted in dose-dependent suppression of GDF-9 actions. In conclusion, although GDF-9 binds to the BMP-activated type II receptor, its downstream actions are mediated by the type I receptor, ALK5, and the Smad2 and Smad3 proteins. Because ALK5 is a known receptor for TGF-beta, diverse members of the TGF-beta family of ligands appear to interact with a limited number of receptors in a combinatorial manner to activate two downstream Smad pathways.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2003-0393

    View details for Web of Science ID 000189299100013

    View details for PubMedID 14684852

  • Potential mechanism of FOXL2 mutations in premature ovarian failure. 51st Annual Meeting of the Society-for-Gynecologic-Investigation Pisarska, M. D., Bae, J., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2004: 313A–313A
  • Comparative genomic analysis of the eight-membered ring cystine knot-containing bone morphogenetic protein antagonists MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Avsian-Kretchmer, O., Hsueh, A. J. 2004; 18 (1): 1-12


    TGF-beta family proteins with a cystine knot motif serve as ligands for diverse families of plasma membrane receptors. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) antagonists represent a subgroup of these proteins, some of which bind BMPs and antagonize their actions during development and morphogenesis. Availability of completed genome sequences from diverse organisms allows bioinformatic analysis of the evolution of BMP antagonists and facilitates their classification. Using a regular expression algorithm (, an exhaustive search of the human genome identified all cystine knot-containing BMP antagonists. Based on the size of the cystine ring, these proteins were divided into three subfamilies: CAN (eight-membered ring), twisted gastrulation (nine-membered ring), as well as chordin and noggin (10-membered ring). The CAN family can be divided further into four subgroups based on a conserved arrangement of additional cysteine residues-gremlin and PRDC, cerberus and coco, and DAN, together with USAG-1 and sclerostin. We searched for orthologs of human BMP antagonists in the genomes of model organisms and analyzed their phylogenetic relationship. New human paralogs were identified together with the verification of orthologous relationships of known genes. We also discuss the physiological roles of the CAN subfamily of BMP antagonists and the associated genetic defects. Based on the known three-dimensional structure of key cystine knot proteins, we postulated disulfide bondings for eight-membered ring BMP antagonists to predict their potential folding and dimerization.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2003-0227

    View details for Web of Science ID 000187624600001

    View details for PubMedID 14525956

  • Paracrine regulation of mammalian oocyte maturation and male germ cell survival. 37th Annual Meeting of the Society-for-the-Study-of-Reproduction Kawamura, K., Kumagai, J., Sudo, S., Chun, S. Y., Fu, P., Wade, J. D., Bathgate, R. A., Hsueh, A. J. SOC STUDY REPRODUCTION. 2004: 187–187
  • Lack of LGR8 gene mutation in Finnish patients with a family history of cryptorchidism. Reproductive biomedicine online Roh, J., Virtanen, H., Kumagai, J., Sudo, S., Kaleva, M., Toppari, J., Hsueh, A. J. 2003; 7 (4): 400-406


    Cryptorchidism is the most frequent congenital anomaly of the urogenital tract in the male. Although in Western countries 1-2% of males at the age of 3 months are diagnosed with this condition, its aetiology is still unknown. Animal models suggest a possible genetic basis for this disorder. Recently, the INSL3 (Leydig insulin-like peptide) gene and its cognate receptor, LGR8, were found to be important in testicular descent by regulating gubernacular development. Male mice null for either INSL3 or LGR8 genes exhibited bilateral cryptorchidism. Because earlier studies indicated that mutation of the INSL3 gene is not associated with the development of human cryptorchidism, this study analysed whether mutations in the LGR8 gene could be associated with this disorder. Sequencing of 18 exons of the LGR8 gene in 23 cryptorchid Finnish patients and a group of 33 control subjects allowed the identification of three nucleotide changes in exons 12 and 17, showing single base substitutions from A to G at positions 957, 993, and 1810 of LGR8. Among the three changes, only the 1810 A to G substitution is associated with an amino acid change from isoleucine to valine (Ile604Val) located in the fifth transmembrane domain of this seven-transmembrane receptor. This change was more frequent in a control group of normal fertile adult males and infant boys than in the group of cryptorchid males. The change is not associated with altered receptor signalling, thus suggesting the presence of a polymorphism unrelated to the cryptorchid phenotype. These data indicate that mutations involving the human LGR8 gene do not represent a frequent cause of cryptorchidism in the Finnish population.

    View details for PubMedID 14656401

  • Expression and functional analysis of forkhead L2 (FOXL2), the gene involved in premature ovarian failure. 59th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-for-Reproductive-Medicine Pisarska, M. D., Bae, J., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2003: S28–S28
  • Signaling receptome: a genomic and evolutionary perspective of plasma membrane receptors involved in signal transduction. Science's STKE : signal transduction knowledge environment Ben-Shlomo, I., Yu Hsu, S., Rauch, R., Kowalski, H. W., Hsueh, A. J. 2003; 2003 (187): RE9-?


    Intercellular communication in multicellular organisms requires the relay of extracellular signals by cell surface proteins to the interiors of cells. The availability of genome sequences from humans and several model organisms has facilitated the identification of several human plasma membrane receptor families and allowed the analysis of their phylogeny. This review provides a global categorization of most known signal transduction-associated receptors as enzymes, recruiters, and latent transcription factors. The evolution of known families of human plasma membrane signaling receptors was traced in current literature and validated by sequence relatedness. This global analysis reveals themes that recur during receptor evolution and allows the formulation of hypotheses for the origins of receptors. The human receptor families involved in signaling (with the exception of channels) are presented in the Human Plasma Membrane Receptome database.

    View details for PubMedID 12815191

  • Activation of the luteinizing hormone receptor in the extracellular domain 5th International Symposium on Ovarian Function Nakabayashi, K., Kudo, M., Hsueh, A. J., Maruo, T. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 2003: 139–44


    Glycoprotein hormone receptors have ligand-binding ectodomains consisting of leucine-rich repeats, followed by a conserved cysteine-rich hinge region to the seven transmembrane (TM) region. Based on constitutively active mutations at Ser-281 in the hinge region of the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor, we mutated the conserved serine in the luteinizing hormone (LH) receptor (S277I) and observed increased basal cAMP production and ligand affinity by mutant receptor. Conversion of Ser-277 to all natural amino acids led to varying degrees of receptor activation. Hydropathy index analysis indicated that substitution of neutral serine with selective nonpolar hydrophobic residues (Leu>Val>Met>Ile) confers constitutive receptor activation. Furthermore, mutation of the angular proline near Ser-273 to flexible Gly also led to receptor activation. The findings suggest the ectodomain of LH receptor constrains the TM region. Point mutations in the hinge region or ligand binding could cause conformational changes in the TM region that result in Gs activation.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0303-7207(03)00075-3

    View details for Web of Science ID 000183480300023

    View details for PubMedID 12770743

  • Relaxin signaling in reproductive tissues 5th International Symposium on Ovarian Function Hsu, S. Y., Nakabayashi, K., NISHI, S., Kumagai, J., Kudo, M., Bathgate, R. A., Sherwood, O. D., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 2003: 165–70


    The insulin/relaxin peptide family includes insulin, IGFs, relaxin1-3, INSL3/RLF, INSL4, INSL5/RIF2 and INSL6/RIF1, many without functional characterization. Based on analysis of transgenic phenotypes and phylogenetic profiling, we have discovered that two orphan leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptors, LGR7 and LGR8, are cognate receptors for relaxin whereas INSL3 is a specific ligand for LGR8. With the identification of the relaxin receptors, it is now possible to investigate specific cells and tissues that are responsive to relaxin in diverse physiological and pathological conditions as well as to develop agonists and antagonists for LGR7 and LGR8 as therapeutics to treat different labor disorders. Furthermore, future functional characterization of the specificity of these pluripoentent receptors with peptide ligands could lead to the understanding of related orphan ligands and receptors.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0303-7207(03)00078-9

    View details for Web of Science ID 000183480300026

    View details for PubMedID 12770746

  • Growth differentiation factor-9 signaling in the ovary 5th International Symposium on Ovarian Function Mazerbourg, S., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 2003: 31–36


    Growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9) is an oocyte-derived growth factor and a member of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily. In GDF-9 null mice, follicle development is arrested at the primary stage and in vivo treatment with GDF-9 enhances the progression of primordial and primary follicles into small preantral follicles. In vitro, GDF-9 promotes granulosa cell proliferation but inhibits FSH-induced differentiation. GDF-9 also promotes the differentiation of theca cells in vivo and in vitro. GDF-9, like TGF-beta or activin, is a close member of the bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) family. GDF-9 likely initiates signaling by assembling two related but distinct types of receptors, both of which are serine/threonine kinases with a single transmembrane domain. The ligand-receptor binding activates intracellular transcription factors called Smads. In granulosa cells, Vitt et al. have shown that the BMP receptor type II is involved in GDF-9 signaling. The type I receptors and the Smad pathway for GDF-9 remain to be identified.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0303-7207(03)00058-3

    View details for Web of Science ID 000183480300007

    View details for PubMedID 12770727

  • H3 relaxin is a specific ligand for LGR7 and activates the receptor by interacting with both the ectodomain and the exoloop 2 JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Sudo, S., Kumagai, J., NISHI, S., Layfield, S., Ferraro, T., Bathgate, R. A., Hsueh, A. J. 2003; 278 (10): 7855-7862


    Leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptors (LGRs) represent a unique subgroup of G protein-coupled receptors with a large ectodomain. Recent studies demonstrated that relaxin activates two orphan LGRs, LGR7 and LGR8, whereas INSL3/Leydig insulin-like peptide specifically activates LGR8. Human relaxin 3 (H3 relaxin) was recently discovered as a novel ligand for relaxin receptors. Here, we demonstrate that H3 relaxin activates LGR7 but not LGR8. Taking advantage of the overlapping specificity of these three ligands for the two related LGRs, chimeric receptors were generated to elucidate the mechanism of ligand activation of LGR7. Chimeric receptor LGR7/8 with the ectodomain from LGR7 but the transmembrane region from LGR8 maintains responsiveness to relaxin but was less responsive to H3 relaxin based on ligand stimulation of cAMP production. The decreased ligand signaling was accompanied by decreases in the ability of H3 relaxin to compete for (33)P-relaxin binding to the chimeric receptor. However, replacement of the exoloop 2, but not exoloop 1 or 3, of LGR7 to the chimeric LGR7/8 restored ligand binding and receptor-mediated cAMP production. These results suggested that activation of LGR7 by H3 relaxin involves specific binding of the ligand to both the ectodomain and the exoloop 2, thus providing a model with which to understand the molecular basis of ligand signaling for this unique subgroup of G protein-coupled receptors.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M212457200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000181466800016

    View details for PubMedID 12506116

  • Tankyrase 1 interacts with Mcl-1 proteins and inhibits their regulation of apoptosis JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Bae, J. Y., Donigian, J. R., Hsueh, A. J. 2003; 278 (7): 5195-5204


    Mcl-1L (myeloid cell leukemia-1 long) is an antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family protein discovered as an early induction gene during leukemia cell differentiation. Previously, we identified Mcl-1S (short) as a short splicing variant of the Mcl-1 gene with proapoptotic activity. To identify Mcl-1-interacting proteins, we performed yeast two-hybrid screening and found cDNAs encoding tankyrase 1. This protein possesses poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activity and presumably facilitates the turnover of substrates following ADP-ribosylation. In yeast and mammalian cells, tankyrase 1 interacts with both Mcl-1L and Mcl-1S, but does not bind to other Bcl-2 family proteins tested. Analysis of truncated tankyrase 1 mutants indicated that the first 10 ankyrin repeats are involved in interaction with Mcl-1. In the N terminus of Mcl-1, a stretch of 25 amino acids is sufficient for binding to tankyrase 1. Overexpression of tankyrase 1 antagonizes both Mcl-1L-mediated cell survival and Mcl-1S-induced cell death. Furthermore, coexpression of tankyrase 1 with Mcl-1L or Mcl-1S decreased the levels of Mcl-1 proteins. Although tankyrase 1 down-regulates Mcl-1 protein expression, no ADP-ribosylation of Mcl-1 was detected. In contrast, overexpression of Mcl-1 proteins suppressed the ADP-ribosylation of the telomeric repeat binding factor 1, another tankyrase 1-interacting protein. Thus, interaction of Mcl-1L and Mcl-1S with tankyrase 1 could serve as a unique mechanism to decrease the expression of these Bcl-2 family proteins, thereby leading to the modulation of the apoptosis pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M201988200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180968900108

    View details for PubMedID 12475993

  • Growth differentiation factor-9 stimulates inhibin production and activates Smad2 in cultured rat granulosa cells ENDOCRINOLOGY Roh, J. S., Bondestam, J., Mazerbourg, S., Kaivo-Oja, N., Groome, N., Ritvos, O., Hsueh, A. J. 2003; 144 (1): 172-178


    Ovarian inhibin production is stimulated by FSH and several TGFbeta family ligands including activins and bone morphogenetic proteins. Growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9) derived by the oocyte is a member of the TGFbeta/activin family, and we have previously shown that GDF-9 treatment stimulates ovarian inhibin-alpha content in explants of neonatal ovaries. However, little is known about GDF-9 regulation of inhibin production in granulosa cells and downstream signaling proteins activated by GDF-9. Here, we used cultured rat granulosa cells to examine the influence of GDF-9 on basal and FSH-stimulated inhibin production, expression of inhibin subunit transcripts, and the GDF-9 activation of Smad phosphorylation. Granulosa cells from small antral follicles of diethylstilbestrol-primed immature rats were cultured with FSH in the presence or absence of increasing concentrations of GDF-9. Secreted dimeric inhibin A and inhibin B were quantified using specific ELISAs, whereas inhibin subunit RNAs were analyzed by Northern blotting using (32)P-labeled inhibin subunit cDNA probes. Similar to FSH, treatment with GDF-9 stimulated dose- and time-dependent increases of both inhibin A and inhibin B production. Furthermore, coincubation of cells with GDF-9 and FSH led to a synergistic stimulation of both inhibin A and inhibin B production. GDF-9 treatment also increased mRNA expression for inhibin-alpha and inhibin-beta subunits. To investigate Smad activation, granulosa cell lysates were analyzed in immunoblots using antiphosphoSmad1 and antiphosphoSmad2 antibodies. GDF-9 treatment increased Smad2, but not Smad1, phosphorylation with increasing doses of GDF-9 leading to a dose-dependent increase in phosphoSmad2 levels. To further investigate inhibin-alpha gene promoter activation by GDF-9, granulosa cells were transiently transfected with an inhibin-alpha promoter-luciferase reporter construct and cultured with different hormones before assaying for luciferase activity. Treatment with FSH or GDF-9 resulted in increased inhibin-alpha gene promoter activity, and combined treatment with both led to synergistic increases. The present data demonstrate that oocyte-derived GDF-9, alone or together with pituitary-derived FSH, stimulates inhibin production, inhibin subunit mRNA expression, and inhibin-alpha promoter activity by rat granulosa cells. The synergistic stimulation of inhibin secretion by the paracrine hormone GDF-9 and the endocrine hormone FSH could play an important role in the feedback regulation of FSH release, thus leading to the modulation of follicle maturation and ovulation.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/en.2002-220618

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180176100023

    View details for PubMedID 12488343

  • INSL3/Leydig insulin-like peptide activates the LGR8 receptor important in testis descent JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Kumagai, J., Hsu, S. Y., Matsumi, H., Roh, J. S., Fu, P., Wade, J. D., Bathgate, R. A., Hsueh, A. J. 2002; 277 (35): 31283-31286


    Several orphan G protein-coupled receptors homologous to gonadotropin and thyrotropin receptors have recently been identified and named as LGR4-8. INSL3, also known as Leydig insulin-like peptide or relaxin-like factor, is a relaxin family member expressed in testis Leydig cells and ovarian theca and luteal cells. Male mice mutant for INSL3 exhibit cryptorchidism or defects in testis descent due to abnormal gubernaculum development whereas overexpression of INSL3 induces ovary descent in transgenic females. Because transgenic mice missing the LGR8 gene are also cryptorchid, INSL3 was tested as the ligand for LGR8. Here, we show that treatment with INSL3 stimulated cAMP production in cells expressing recombinant LGR8 but not LGR7. In addition, interactions between INSL3 and LGR8 were demonstrated following ligand receptor cross-linking. Northern blot analysis indicated that the LGR8 transcripts are expressed in gubernaculum whereas treatment of cultured gubernacular cells with INSL3 stimulated cAMP production and thymidine incorporation. The present study identified the ligand for an orphan G protein-coupled receptor based on common phenotypes of ligand and receptor null mice. Demonstration of INSL3 as the ligand for LGR8 facilitates understanding of the mechanism of testis descent and allows studies on the role of INSL3 in gonadal and other physiological processes.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.C200398200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000177718700002

    View details for PubMedID 12114498

  • Bone morphogenetic protein receptor type II is a receptor for growth differentiation factor-9 BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION Vitt, U. A., Mazerbourg, S., Klein, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2002; 67 (2): 473-480


    Growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9) is a glycoprotein secreted by the oocyte that is capable of stimulating granulosa cell proliferation and inhibiting differentiation. GDF-9 is a member of the transforming growth factor beta superfamily of ligands known to signal through type I and II serine/threonine kinase receptors. In the sequenced human genome, seven type I and six type II receptors have been identified. Based on phylogenetic and sequence analyses, we predicted that GDF-9 likely interacts with known type I and type II receptors. We obtained soluble chimeric proteins with the ectodomains of candidate receptors fused to the Fc portion of immunoglobin and tested their ability to act as functional antagonists. Addition of bone morphogenetic protein receptor type II (BMPRII) ectodomain was most effective in blocking GDF-9 stimulation of granulosa cell proliferation and GDF-9 suppression of FSH-stimulated progesterone production. In addition, the ectodomains of bone morphogenetic protein receptor type IA, bone morphogenetic protein receptor type IB, and activin receptor type IIA were partially effective in blocking GDF-9 action. Furthermore, the BMPRII ectodomain directly interacted with GDF-9 in a coprecipitation study demonstrating the role of the BMPRII ectodomain as a binding protein for GDF-9. To demonstrate the role of BMPRII in GDF-9 signaling in follicular cells, the expression of this protein was blocked in cultured granulosa cells using specific BMPRII antisense oligomers. Inhibition of BMPRII biosynthesis completely prevented the GDF-9 induction of granulosa cell thymidine incorporation. GDF-9 expression is essential for early follicle development, and the presence of the type II and type I receptors in the neonatal rat ovary was verified by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. These results demonstrate the important role of BMPRII in mediating GDF-9 action in granulosa cells from small antral follicles and indicate that the effects of GDF-9 might be transduced by binding to BMPRII and one or more type I receptors.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000177044200017

    View details for PubMedID 12135884

  • Perspective: The ovarian kaleidoscope database - II. Functional genomic analysis of an organ-specific database ENDOCRINOLOGY Ben-Shlomo, I., Vitt, U. A., Hsueh, A. J. 2002; 143 (6): 2041-2044


    In the postgenomic era, it is now possible to investigate the function of all human genes to provide an integrated view of physiology and pathophysiology. An organ-based approach has been used to set up a database integrating existing text-based literature on individual ovarian genes and their sequence-based data in the GenBank. The Ovarian Kaleidoscope database (OKdb) has accumulated nearly one thousand individual gene pages that are searchable based on gene function, cellular localization, chromosomal position, ovarian cell type, ovarian function, mutant phenotypes, and other criteria. The present review exemplifies the use of this organ-based database in setting up gene pathway maps for DNA array analysis, identifying key gene networks essential for infertility phenotypes, comparing chromosomal synteny regions for finding candidate fertility genes, categorizing cell-specific and hormonally coregulated genes for promoter analysis, and documenting potential ligands and receptors in the paracrine regulation of follicular development. The present global analysis of gene function and relationships in an organ-specific manner provides a functional genomic paradigm for the future understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of diverse organs.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000175653800011

    View details for PubMedID 12021167

  • Hormonal genomics ENDOCRINE REVIEWS Leo, C. P., Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2002; 23 (3): 369-381


    The availability of the human genomic sequence is changing the way in which biological questions are addressed. Based on the prediction of genes from nucleotide sequences, homologies among their encoded amino acids can be analyzed and used to place them in distinct families. This serves as a first step in building hypotheses for testing the structural and functional properties of previously uncharacterized paralogous genes. As genomic information from more organisms becomes available, these hypotheses can be refined through comparative genomics and phylogenetic studies. Instead of the traditional single-gene approach in endocrine research, we are beginning to gain an understanding of entire mammalian genomes, thus providing the basis to reveal subfamilies and pathways for genes involved in ligand signaling. The present review provides selective examples of postgenomic approaches in the analysis of novel genes involved in hormonal signaling and their chromosomal locations, polymorphisms, splicing variants, differential expression, and physiological function. In the postgenomic era, scientists will be able to move from a gene-by-gene approach to a reconstructionistic one by reading the encyclopedia of life from a global perspective. Eventually, a community-based approach will yield new insights into the complexity of intercellular communications, thereby offering us an understanding of hormonal physiology and pathophysiology.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000176192300006

    View details for PubMedID 12050125

  • Thyrostimulin, a heterodimer of two new human glycoprotein hormone subunits, activates the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION Nakabayashi, K., Matsumi, H., Bhalla, A., Bae, J., Mosselman, S., Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2002; 109 (11): 1445-1452


    Human thyrotropin (TSH), luteotropin (LH), follitropin (FSH), and chorionic gonadotropin are members of the heterodimeric glycoprotein hormone family. The common alpha subunit forms noncovalent heterodimers with different beta subunits. Two novel human glycoprotein hormonelike genes, alpha2 (A2) and beta5 (B5), recently have been identified. Using a yeast two-hybrid assay, the two subunits were found as potential heterodimerization partners. Immunological analyses confirmed the heterodimerization of A2 and B5 in transfected cells and their colocalization in the anterior pituitary. Recombinant A2/B5 heterodimeric glycoproteins, purified using cation exchange and size fractionation chromatography, activated human TSH receptors, but not LH and FSH receptors, and showed high affinity to TSH receptors in a radioligand receptor assay. The heterodimer also stimulated cAMP production and thymidine incorporation by cultured thyroid cells and increased serum thyroxine levels in TSH-suppressed rats in vivo. This new heterodimeric glycoprotein hormone was named as thyrostimulin based on its thyroid-stimulating activity. The expression of thyrostimulin in the anterior pituitary known to express TSH receptors suggested a paracrine mechanism. The present discovery of a new ligand based on genomic approaches could facilitate the understanding of the physiological roles of extra-thyroid TSH receptor systems and the structural-functional basis of receptor signaling by related glycoprotein hormones.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI200214340

    View details for Web of Science ID 000176015300008

    View details for PubMedID 12045258

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC150994

  • The ectodomain of the luteinizing hormone receptor interacts with exoloop 2 to constrain the transmembrane region - Studies using chimeric human and fly receptors JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY NISHI, S., Nakabayashi, K., Kobilka, B., Hsueh, A. J. 2002; 277 (6): 3958-3964


    Lutropin (LH) and follitropin (FSH) receptors belong to a group of leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptors (LGRs) found in vertebrates and flies. We fused the ectodomain of human LH or FSH receptors to the transmembrane region of fly LGR2. The chimeric human/fly receptors, unlike their wild type counterparts, exhibited ligand-independent constitutive activity. Because ectodomains likely interact with exoloops to constrain the receptors, individual exoloops of the chimeric receptor containing the ectodomain of the LH receptor and transmembrane region of fly LGR2 was replaced with LH receptor sequences. Chimeric receptors with the ectodomain and exoloop 2, but not exoloop 1 or 3, from LH receptors showed decreases in constitutive activity, but ligand treatment stimulated cAMP production. Furthermore, substitution of key resides in the hinge region of fly LGR2 with LH receptor sequences led to constitutive receptor activation; however, concomitant substitution of the homologous exoloop 2 of the LH receptor decreased G(s) coupling. These results suggest that the hinge region of the LH receptor interacts with exoloop 2 to constrain the receptor in an inactive conformation whereas ligand binding relieves this constraint, leading to G(s) activation.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M109617200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000173813900023

    View details for PubMedID 11723133

  • Activation of orphan receptors by the hormone relaxin SCIENCE Hsu, S. Y., Nakabayashi, K., NISHI, S., Kumagai, J., Kudo, M., Sherwood, O. D., Hsueh, A. J. 2002; 295 (5555): 671-674


    Relaxin is a hormone important for the growth and remodeling of reproductive and other tissues during pregnancy. Although binding sites for relaxin are widely distributed, the nature of its receptor has been elusive. Here, we demonstrate that two orphan heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide binding protein (G protein)-coupled receptors, LGR7 and LGR8, are capable of mediating the action of relaxin through an adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent pathway distinct from that of the structurally related insulin and insulin-like growth factor family ligand. Treatment of antepartum mice with the soluble ligand-binding region of LGR7 caused parturition delay. The wide and divergent distribution of the two relaxin receptors implicates their roles in reproductive, brain, renal, cardiovascular, and other functions.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000173560900043

    View details for PubMedID 11809971

  • Stage-dependent role of growth differentiation factor-9 in ovarian follicle development International Conference on Reproductive Competence: Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Intervention Vitt, U. A., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 2002: 211–17
  • Impact of the genomic revolution on reproductive sciences. Hsueh, A. J., Hsu, S. Y., Nakabayashi, K., Vitt, U., Ben-Shlomo, I., Leo, C. SOC STUDY REPRODUCTION. 2002: 71–72
  • Ovarian follicle development: the role of oocyte GDF-9 and GDF-9B/BMP-15 17th World Congress on Fertility and Sterility Hsueh, A. J., Roh, J. S. PARTHENON PUBLISHING GROUP LTD. 2002: 331–336
  • The impact of the genomic revolution on gynecological endocrinology 8th World Congress of Gynecological Endocrinology Wasson, K. M., Hsueh, A. J. PARTHENON PUBLISHING GROUP LTD. 2002: 1–4
  • Stage-dependent role of growth differentiation factor-9 in ovarian follicle development MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Vitt, U. A., Hsueh, A. J. 2001; 183 (1-2): 171-177


    GDF-9 was shown to be essential for follicle progression and is the only factor secreted by the oocyte shown to increase the number of primordial and primary follicles in vivo. Furthermore, GDF-9 is a major growth factor involved in the oocyte control of granulosa cell differentiation. A concentration gradient of the paracrine factor GDF-9 established by the oocyte could provide the basis to explain the stratification of granulosa cells in antral and preovulatory follicles. The stimulatory effects of GDF-9 on early follicle development provide a basis for the use of GDF-9 in the treatment of infertility.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000172077600020

    View details for PubMedID 11604237

  • Underphosphorylated BAD interacts with diverse antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins to regulate apoptosis APOPTOSIS Bae, J., Hsu, S. Y., Leo, C. P., Zell, K., Hsueh, A. J. 2001; 6 (5): 319-330


    Survival factors activate kinases which, in turn, phosphorylate the proapoptotic Bcl-xl/Bcl-2-associated death promoter homolog (BAD) protein at key serine residues. Phosphorylated BAD interacts with 14-3-3 proteins, and overexpression of 14-3-3 attenuates BAD-mediated apoptosis. Although BAD is known to interact with Bcl-2, Bcl-w, and Bcl-xL, the exact relationship between BAD and anti- or proapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins has not been analyzed systematically. Using the yeast two-hybrid protein interaction assay, we found that BAD interacted negligibly with proapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins. Even though wild type BAD only interacted with selected numbers of antiapoptotic proteins, underphosphorylated mutant BAD interacted with all antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins tested (Bcl-2, Bcl-w, Bcl-xL, Bfl-1/A1, Mcl-1, Ced-9, and BHRF-1). Using nonphosphorylated recombinant BAD expressed in bacteria, direct interactions between BAD and diverse antiapoptotic Bcl-2 members were also observed. Furthermore, apoptosis induced by BAD was blocked by coexpression with Bcl-2, Bcl-w, and Bfl-1. Comparison of BAD orthologs from zebrafish to human indicated the conservation of a 14-3-3 binding site and the BH3 domain during evolution. Thus, highly conserved BAD interacts with diverse antiapoptotic Bcl-2 members to regulate apoptosis.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000170224800001

    View details for PubMedID 11483855

  • DNA array analysis of changes in preovulatory gene expression in the rat ovary BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION Leo, C. P., Pisarska, M. D., Hsueh, A. J. 2001; 65 (1): 269-276


    During the periovulatory period, the mammalian ovary is the site of dramatic functional and structural changes, leading to oocyte maturation, follicle rupture, and corpus luteum formation. To a large extent, these processes result from changes in the transcriptome of various ovarian cell types. To develop a broader view of periovulatory changes in gene expression in the ovary and to identify further genes involved in periovulatory events, we used the recently developed DNA array technology. Immature female eCG-primed rats were killed either immediately before or 6 h after ovulation induction with hCG. Total ovarian RNA was isolated and used to prepare radiolabeled cDNA probes, which were hybridized to DNA arrays representing approximately 600 rat genes. Quantitative analysis identified a multitude of regulated gene messages, including several genes involved in extracellular matrix degradation and lipid/steroid metabolism previously reported to be induced by hCG. This screening also identified a group of candidate genes whose ovarian expression and gonadotropin regulation was hitherto unknown. The induction of three of these genes, encoding cutaneous fatty acid-binding protein, the interleukin-4 receptor alpha chain, and prepronociceptin, was confirmed and further characterized by Northern blot analysis. In addition, in situ hybridization analysis showed that hCG administration resulted in exclusive or predominant expression of all three genes in theca cells. These results demonstrate that DNA arrays can be used to identify genes regulated during the periovulatory period, thus contributing to a more detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms of ovulation.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000169515800034

    View details for PubMedID 11420249

  • Human stresscopin and stresscopin-related peptide are selective ligands for the type 2 corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor NATURE MEDICINE Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2001; 7 (5): 605-611


    Adaptive stress responses mediated by the endocrine, autonomic, cardiovascular and immune systems are essential for the survival of the individual. Initial stress-induced responses provide a vital short-term metabolic lift, but prolonged or inappropriate exposure to stress can compromise homeostasis thereby leading to disease. This 'fight-or-flight' response is characterized by the activation of the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)-adrenocorticotropin-glucocorticoid axis, mediated by the type 1 CRH receptor. In contrast, the type 2 CRH receptor mediates the stress-coping responses during the recovery phase of stress. We identified human stresscopin (SCP) and stresscopin-related peptide (SRP) as specific ligands for the type 2 CRH receptor. The genes encoding these peptides were expressed in diverse peripheral tissues as well as in the central nervous system. Treatment with SCP or SRP suppressed food intake, delayed gastric emptying and decreased heat-induced edema. Thus SCP and SRP might represent endogenous ligands for maintaining homeostasis after stress, and could allow the design of drugs to ameliorate stress-related diseases.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000169961100041

    View details for PubMedID 11329063

  • Evolution and classification of cystine knot-containing hormones and related extracellular signaling molecules MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Vitt, U. A., Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2001; 15 (5): 681-694


    The cystine knot three-dimensional structure is found in many extracellular molecules and is conserved among divergent species. The identification of proteins with a cystine knot structure is difficult by commonly used pairwise alignments because the sequence homology among these proteins is low. Taking advantage of complete genome sequences in diverse organisms, we used a complementary approach of pattern searches and pairwise alignments to screen the predicted protein sequences of five model species (human, fly, worm, slime mold, and yeast) and retrieved proteins with low sequence homology but containing a typical cystine knot signature. Sequence comparison between proteins known to have a cystine knot three-dimensional structure (transforming growth factor-beta, glycoprotein hormone, and platelet-derived growth factor subfamily members) identified new crucial amino acid residues (two hydrophilic amino acid residues flanking cysteine 5 of the cystine knot). In addition to the well known members of the cystine knot superfamily, novel subfamilies of proteins (mucins, norrie disease protein, von Willebrand factor, bone morphogenetic protein antagonists, and slit-like proteins) were identified as putative cystine knot-containing proteins. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the ancient evolution of these proteins and the relationship between hormones [e.g. transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta)] and extracellular matrix proteins (e.g. mucins). They are absent in the unicellular yeast genome but present in nematode, fly, and higher species, indicating that the cystine knot structure evolved in extracellular signaling molecules of multicellular organisms. All data retrieved by this study can be viewed at

    View details for Web of Science ID 000168393200001

    View details for PubMedID 11328851

  • Mullerian inhibitory substance induces growth of rat preantral ovarian follicles BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION Mcgee, E. A., Smith, R., Spears, N., Nachtigal, M. W., Ingraham, H., Hsueh, A. J. 2001; 64 (1): 293-298


    Müllerian inhibitory substance (MIS), also known as anti-Müllerian hormone, is best known as the hormone that regulates the regression of the Müllerian duct in males. In females, MIS is expressed in granulosa cells of preantral and early antral follicles. The specific MIS type II receptor is present in granulosa and theca cells of these small, growing follicles. Because the role of MIS in preantral follicle development is unknown, we have evaluated the effect of MIS on the growth, differentiation, and apoptosis of intact preantral follicles in a serum-free culture system. In this system, treatment with FSH induces an increase in both follicle diameter, cell number, and follicle cell differentiation based on increased inhibin-alpha synthesis. Of interest, treatment with MIS enhances the effect of FSH both on follicle diameter and cell number. Although treatment with activin A also enhances FSH effects on follicle growth, treatment with transforming growth factor (TGF)-ss inhibits the FSH effects on follicle growth. Based on in situ staining of fragmented DNA, MIS was found to have no effect on follicle cell apoptosis, unlike its proapoptotic action on Müllerian ducts. In contrast to MIS and activin, TGF-ss was a potent proapoptotic factor for preantral follicles in culture. Analysis of inhibin-alpha expression of cultured preantral follicles further indicated that in contrast to activin, treatment with MIS did not enhance FSH-stimulated follicle differentiation. Thus, MIS is a unique factor that promotes preantral follicle growth but not preantral follicle cell differentiation and apoptosis.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000166200200035

    View details for PubMedID 11133686

  • Impact of genomic revolution on reproductive medicine 53rd Annual Congress of the Japan-Society-of-Obstetrics-and-Gynecology Hsueh, A. J., Pisarska, M. D. MEDIMOND S R L. 2001: 191–199
  • Ovarian gene database Workshop on the Ovary - Genesis, Function, and Failure Wasson, K. M., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2001: S37–S39


    The entire human genome will be sequenced in September 2000. Facing the exponential increase of data in the GenBank at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, reproductive biologists are being bombarded with massive amounts of information on diverse genes. It is becoming increasingly difficult for individual investigators to sort out the diverse genetic and physiologic information on the localization and function of different genes in the ovary. To alleviate the present situation, we have taken advantage of the accessibility of the Internet and initiated a project that serves the entire ovarian research community.The Ovarian Kaleidoscope database provides information regarding biologic function, expression pattern, and regulation of genes that are expressed in the ovary. In addition, it serves as a gateway to other online information resources relevant to ovarian research by offering results from original papers and data about nucleotide and amino acid sequences, and human and murine mutation phenotypes. All references are linked by hypertext to PubMed and additional links to sequence databases are also included. This information is accessible online and searchable not only by gene name but also by criteria such as the cellular and ovarian function of the gene product, the expression of genes in different ovarian cell types, or their association with specific ovarian phenotypes.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000167356900012

    View details for PubMedID 11223370

  • Characterization of two fly LGR (leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptor) proteins homologous to vertebrate glycoprotein hormone receptors: Constitutive activation of wild-type fly LGR1 but not LGR2 in transfected mammalian cells ENDOCRINOLOGY NISHI, S., Hsu, S. Y., Zell, K., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 141 (11): 4081-4090


    The receptors for lutropin (LH), FSH, and TSH belong to the large G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) superfamily and are unique in having a large N-terminal extracellular (ecto-) domain important for interactions with the large glycoprotein hormone ligands. Recent studies indicated the evolution of a large family of the leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptors (LGRs) with at least seven members in mammals. Based on the sequences of mammalian glycoprotein hormone receptors, we have identified a new LGR in Drosophila melanogaster and named it as fly LGR2 to distinguish it from the previously reported fly LH/FSH/TSH receptor (renamed as fly LGR1). Genomic analysis indicated the presence of 10 exons in fly LGR2 as compared with 16 exons in fly LGR1. The deduced fly LGR2 complementary DNA (cDNA) showed 43 and 64% similarity to the fly LGR1 in the ectodomain and transmembrane region, respectively. Comparison of 12 LGRs from diverse species indicated that these proteins can be divided into three subfamilies and fly LGR1 and LGR2 belong to different subfamilies. Potential signaling mechanisms were tested in human 293T cells overexpressing the fly receptors. Of interest, fly LGR1, but not LGR2, showed constitutive activity as reflected by elevated basal cAMP production in transfected cells. The basal activity of fly LGR1 was further augmented following point mutations of key residues in the intracellular loop 3 or transmembrane VI, similar to those found in patients with familial male precocious puberty. The present study reports the cloning of fly LGR2 and indicates that the G protein-coupling mechanism is conserved in fly LGR1 as compared with the mammalian glycoprotein hormone receptors. The characterization of fly receptors with features similar to mammalian glycoprotein hormone receptors allows a better understanding of the evolution of this unique group of GPCRs and future elucidation of their ligand signaling mechanisms.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000089970300020

    View details for PubMedID 11089539

  • In vivo treatment with GDF-9 stimulates primordial and primary follicle progression and theca cell marker CYP17 in ovaries of immature rats ENDOCRINOLOGY Vitt, U. A., Mcgee, E. A., Hayashi, M., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 141 (10): 3814-3820


    Growth differentiation factor (GDF)-9 is a cystine knot-containing hormone of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily produced by the oocyte. In GDF-9 null mice, follicle development is arrested at the primary stage and GDF-9 treatment in vitro enhances preantral follicle growth. Immature female rats were treated with recombinant GDF-9 for 7 or 10 days. At 10 days, treatment with GDF-9 augmented ovarian weights, concomitant with an increase in the number of primary and small preantral follicles by 30 and 60%, respectively. Furthermore, the number of primordial follicles was decreased by 29%, but the number of large preantral follicles was not affected. In contrast, treatment with FSH increased the number of small and large preantral follicles by 36 and 177% but did not influence the number of primary and primordial follicles. Immunoblot analysis showed an increase of CYP17, a theca cell marker, in the ovarian homogenate after treatment with GDF-9 but not FSH. The present results indicate that in vivo treatment with GDF-9 enhances the progression of primordial and primary follicles into small preantral follicles. Thus, GDF-9 treatment could provide an alternative approach to stimulate early follicle development in addition to the widely used FSH that acts mainly on the development of more advanced follicles.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000089394800035

    View details for PubMedID 11014238

  • Activation of the luteinizing hormone receptor following substitution of Ser-277 with selective hydrophobic residues in the ectodomain hinge region JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Nakabayashi, K., Kudo, M., Kobilka, B., Hsueh, A. W. 2000; 275 (39): 30264-30271


    Glycoprotein hormone receptors are G protein-coupled receptors with ligand-binding ectodomains consisting of leucine-rich repeats. The ectodomain is connected by a conserved cysteine-rich hinge region to the seven transmembrane (TM) region. Gain-of-function mutants of luteinizing hormone (LH) and thyroid-stimulating hormone receptors found in patients allowed identification of residues important for receptor activation. Based on constitutively active mutations at Ser-281 in the hinge region of the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor, we mutated the conserved serine in the LH (S277I) and follicle-stimulating hormone receptors (S273I) and observed increased basal cAMP production and ligand affinity by mutant receptors. For the LH receptor, conversion of Ser-277 to all natural amino acids led to varying degrees of receptor activation. Hydropathy index analysis indicated that substitution of neutral serine with selective nonpolar hydrophobic residues (Leu>Val>Met>Ile) confers constitutive receptor activation whereas serine deletion or substitution with charged Arg, Lys, or Asp led to defective receptor expression. Furthermore, mutation of the angular proline near Ser-273 to flexible Gly also led to receptor activation. The findings suggest the ectodomain of glycoprotein hormone receptors constrain the TM region. Point mutations in the hinge region of these proteins, or ligand binding to these receptors, could cause conformational changes in the TM region that result in G(s) activation.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000089577900049

    View details for PubMedID 10889210

  • The Ovarian Kaleidoscope database: An online resource for the ovarian research community ENDOCRINOLOGY Leo, C. P., Vitt, U. A., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 141 (9): 3052-3054


    The Ovarian Kaleidoscope database (OKdb) is a collaborative online resource for scientists investigating the ovary. It provides information regarding the biological function, expression pattern, and regulation of genes expressed in the ovary as well as for the phenotypes associated with their mutation. In addition, the records in the OKdb are linked to other sites offering online information about biomedical publications, nucleotide and amino acid sequences, and human genes and genetic disorders. A powerful search tool allows the retrieval of records for specific genes and gene products based on their properties at the molecular, cellular, ovarian, or organism level. Researchers working on particular aspects of ovarian physiology can submit information into the database through a simple web-based form and instantly update their records as additional data become available. Because of this approach, the OKdb website could serve as a tool with which to navigate through the rapidly expanding amount of information about the expression and function of individual genes in the ovary and could also enhance communication within the ovarian research community. Moreover, the design of the OKdb could serve as a model for the development of other online databases of tissue-specific gene expression and function. The OKdb can be accessed at

    View details for Web of Science ID 000088872200002

    View details for PubMedID 10965872

  • MCL-1S, a splicing variant of the antiapoptotic BCL-2 family member MCL-1, encodes a proapoptotic protein possessing only the BH3 domain JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Bae, J., Leo, C. P., Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 275 (33): 25255-25261


    MCL-1 (myeloid cell leukemia-1) is an antiapoptotic BCL-2 family protein discovered as an early induction gene during myeloblastic leukemia cell differentiation. This survival protein has the BCL-2 homology (BH) domains 1, 2, and 3 and a C-terminal transmembrane region. We identified a short splicing variant of the MCL-1 mRNA in the human placenta encoding a protein, termed MCL-1 short (MCL-1S), with an altered C terminus as compared with the full-length MCL-1 long (MCL-1L), leading to the loss of BH1, BH2, and the transmembrane domains. Analysis of the human MCL-1 gene indicated that MCL-1S results from the splicing out of exon 2 during mRNA processing. MCL-1S, unlike MCL-1L, does not interact with diverse proapoptotic BCL-2-related proteins in the yeast two-hybrid system. In contrast, MCL-1S dimerizes with MCL-1L in the yeast assay and coprecipitates with MCL-1L in transfected mammalian cells. Overexpression of MCL-1S induces apoptosis in transfected Chinese hamster ovary cells, and the MCL-1S action was antagonized by the antiapoptotic MCL-1L. Thus, the naturally occurring MCL-1S variant represents a new proapoptotic BH3 domain-only protein capable of dimerizing with the antiapoptotic MCL-1L. The fate of MCL-1-expressing cells could be regulated through alternative splicing mechanisms and interactions of the resulting anti- and proapoptotic gene products.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000088849400030

    View details for PubMedID 10837489

  • The three subfamilies of leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptors (LGR): Identification of LGR6 and LGR7 and the signaling mechanism for LGR7 MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Hsu, S. Y., Kudo, M., Chen, T., Nakabayashi, K., Bhalla, A., van der Spek, P. J., van Duin, M., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 14 (8): 1257-1271


    Glycoprotein hormone receptors, including LH receptor, FSH receptor, and TSH receptor, belong to the large G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) superfamily but are unique in having a large ectodomain important for ligand binding. In addition to two recently isolated mammalian LGRs (leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptors), LGR4 and LGR5, we further identified two new paralogs, LGR6 and LGR7, for glycoprotein hormone receptors. Phylogenetic analysis showed that there are three LGR subgroups: the known glycoprotein hormone receptors; LGR4 to 6; and a third subgroup represented by LGR7. LGR6 has a subgroup-specific hinge region after leucine-rich repeats whereas LGR7, like snail LGR, contains a low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor cysteine-rich motif at the N terminus. Similar to LGR4 and LGR5, LGR6 and LGR7 mRNAs are expressed in multiple tissues. Although the putative ligands for LGR6 and LGR7 are unknown, studies on single amino acid mutants of LGR7, with a design based on known LH and TSH receptor gain-of-function mutations, indicated that the action of LGR7 is likely mediated by the protein kinase A but not the phospholipase C pathway. Thus, mutagenesis of conserved residues to allow constitutive receptor activation is a novel approach for the characterization of signaling pathways of selective orphan GPCRs. The present study also defines the existence of three subclasses of leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptors in the human genome and allows future studies on the physiological importance of this expanding subgroup of GPCR.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000088498400012

    View details for PubMedID 10935549

  • Hormonal regulation of early follicle development in the rat ovary Workshop on Early Folliculogenesis and Oocyte Development - Basic and Clinical Aspects Hsueh, A. J., Mcgee, E. A., Hayashi, M., Hsu, S. Y. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 2000: 95–100


    Although earlier studies focused on the hormonal regulation of antral and preovulatory follicles, recent studies indicate the importance of the hormonal control mechanism for preantral follicles. The endocrine hormone FSH is not only a survival factor for early antral follicles but also a potent growth and differentiation factor for preantral follicles. In addition, KGF secreted by theca cells and c-kit ligand secreted by granulosa cells play paracrine roles in the regulation of preantral follicle growth and development. Furthermore oocyte-derived GDF-9 promotes the growth and differentiation of early follicles by acting on somatic cells in the follicle. It is likely that the genetic makeup of an oocyte could determine the secretion of oocyte hormones which would, in turn, regulate the growth and differentiation of the surrounding somatic cells of that follicle. A better understanding of the hormonal mechanisms underlying early follicle development could provide a refined culture system for the in vitro maturation of fertilizable oocytes and future design of fertility and contraceptive agents.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000088889300015

    View details for PubMedID 10963880

  • Discovering new hormones, receptors, and signaling mediators in the genomic era MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 14 (5): 594-604

    View details for Web of Science ID 000086838500002

    View details for PubMedID 10809225

  • Tissue-specific Bcl-2 protein partners in apoptosis: An ovarian paradigm PHYSIOLOGICAL REVIEWS Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 80 (2): 593-614


    Apoptosis is an essential physiological process by which multicellular organisms eliminate superfluous cells. An expanding family of Bcl-2 proteins plays a pivotal role in the decision step of apoptosis, and the differential expression of Bcl-2 members and their binding proteins allows the regulation of apoptosis in a tissue-specific manner mediated by diverse extra- and intracellular signals. The Bcl-2 proteins can be divided into three subgroups: 1) antiapoptotic proteins with multiple Bcl-2 homology (BH) domains and a transmembrane region, 2) proapoptotic proteins with the same structure but missing the BH4 domain, and 3) proapoptotic ligands with only the BH3 domain. In the mammalian ovary, a high rate of follicular cell apoptosis continues during reproductive life. With the use of the yeast two-hybrid system, the characterization of ovarian Bcl-2 genes serves as a paradigm to understand apoptosis regulation in a tissue-specific manner. We identified Mcl-1 as the main ovarian antiapoptotic Bcl-2 protein, the novel Bok (Bcl-2-related ovarian killer) as the proapoptotic protein, as well as BOD (Bcl-2-related ovarian death agonist) and BAD as the proapoptotic ligands. The activity of the proapoptotic ligand BAD is regulated by upstream follicle survival factors through its binding to constitutively expressed 14-3-3 or hormone-induced P11. In contrast, the channel-forming Mcl-1 and Bok regulate cytochrome c release and, together with the recently discovered Diva/Boo, control downstream apoptosis-activating factor (Apaf)-1 homologs and caspases. Elucidation of the role of Bcl-2 members and their interacting proteins in the tissue-specific regulation of apoptosis could facilitate an understanding of normal physiology and allow the development of new therapeutic approaches for pathological states.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000086032300002

    View details for PubMedID 10747202

  • Initial and cyclic recruitment of ovarian follicles ENDOCRINE REVIEWS Mcgee, E. A., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 21 (2): 200-214


    Mammalian ovaries consist of follicles as basic functional units. The total number of ovarian follicles is determined early in life, and the depletion of this pool leads to reproductive senescence. Each follicle develops to either ovulate or, more likely, to undergo degeneration. The dynamics of ovarian follicle development have interested endocrinologists and developmental biologists for many years. With the advent of assisted reproductive techniques in humans, the possibility of regulating follicle development in vivo and in vitro has gained clinical relevance. In this review, we focus upon key branching points during the development of ovarian follicles as well as factors involved in determining the eventual destiny of individual follicles. We discuss inconsistencies in the literature regarding the definitions of follicle recruitment and selection and propose to name the two major steps of follicle development as initial and cyclic recruitment, respectively. Because some of these disparities have arisen due to differences in the animal systems studied, we also compare the development of the ovarian follicles of both humans and rats. We also review the status of knowledge of several puzzling clinical issues that may provide important clues toward unlocking the mechanisms of follicle development.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000086493300004

    View details for PubMedID 10782364

  • Growth differentiation factor-9 stimulates proliferation but suppresses the follicle-stimulating hormone-induced differentiation of cultured granulosa cells from small antral and preovulatory rat follicles BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION Vitt, U. A., Hayashi, M., Klein, C., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 62 (2): 370-377


    In addition to pituitary gonadotropins and paracrine factors, ovarian follicle development is also modulated by oocyte factors capable of stimulating granulosa cell proliferation but suppressing their differentiation. The nature of these oocyte factors is unclear. Because growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9) enhanced preantral follicle growth and was detected in the oocytes of early antral and preovulatory follicles, we hypothesized that this oocyte hormone could regulate the proliferation and differentiation of granulosa cells from these advanced follicles. Treatment with recombinant GDF-9, but not FSH, stimulated thymidine incorporation into cultured granulosa cells from both early antral and preovulatory follicles, accompanied by increases in granulosa cell number. Although GDF-9 treatment alone stimulated basal steroidogenesis in granulosa cells, cotreatment with GDF-9 suppressed FSH-stimulated progesterone and estradiol production. In addition, GDF-9 cotreatment attentuated FSH-induced LH receptor formation. The inhibitory effects of GDF-9 on FSH-induced granulosa cell differentiation were accompanied by decreases in the FSH-induced cAMP production. These data suggested that GDF-9 is a proliferation factor for granulosa cells from early antral and preovulatory follicles but suppresses FSH-induced differentiation of the same cells. Thus, oocyte-derived GDF-9 could account, at least partially, for the oocyte factor(s) previously reported to control cumulus and granulosa cell differentiation.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000084987400020

    View details for PubMedID 10642575

  • The nematode leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptor (LGR) protein homologous to vertebrate gonadotropin and thyrotropin receptors is constitutively activated in mammalian cells MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Kudo, M., Chen, T., Nakabayashi, K., Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 2000; 14 (2): 272-284


    The receptors for LH, FSH, and TSH belong to the large G protein-coupled, seven-transmembrane protein family and are unique in having a large N-terminal extracellular (ecto-) domain containing leucine-rich repeats important for interactions with the large glycoprotein hormone ligands. Recent studies indicated the evolution of an expanding family of homologous leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptors (LGRs), including the three known glycoprotein hormone receptors; mammalian LGR4 and LGR5; and LGRs in sea anemone, fly, and snail. We isolated nematode LGR cDNA and characterized its gene from the Caenorhabditis elegans genome. This receptor cDNA encodes 929 amino acids consisting of a signal peptide for membrane insertion, an ectodomain with nine leucine-rich repeats, a seven-TM region, and a long C-terminal tail. The nematode LGR has five potential N-linked glycosylation sites in its ectodomain and multiple consensus phosphorylation sites for protein kinase A and C in the cytoplasmic loop and C tail. The nematode receptor gene has 13 exons; its TM region and C tail, unlike mammalian glycoprotein hormone receptors, are encoded by multiple exons. Sequence alignments showed that the TM region of the nematode receptor has 30% identity and 50% similarity to the same region in mammalian glycoprotein hormone receptors. Although human 293T cells expressing the nematode LGR protein do not respond to human glycoprotein hormones, these cells exhibited major increases in basal cAMP production in the absence of ligand stimulation, reaching levels comparable to those in cells expressing a constitutively activated mutant human LH receptor found in patients with familial male-limited precocious puberty. Analysis of cAMP production mediated by chimeric receptors further indicated that the ectodomain and TM region of the nematode LGR and human LH receptor are interchangeable and the TM region of the nematode LGR is responsible for constitutive receptor activation. Thus, the identification and characterization of the nematode receptor provides the basis for understanding the evolutionary relationship of diverse LGRs and for future analysis of mechanisms underlying the activation of glycoprotein hormone receptors and related LGRs.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000085163500006

    View details for PubMedID 10674399

  • The potential role of the oocyte in follicle development and ovarian aging 10th Reinier DeGraaf Symposium Vitt, U., Hayashi, M., Hsueh, A. J. PARTHENON PUBLISHING GROUP LTD. 2000: 197–206
  • Characterization of the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family member myeloid cell leukemia-1 (Mcl-1) and the stimulation of its message by gonadotropins in the rat ovary ENDOCRINOLOGY Leo, C. P., Hsu, S. Y., Chun, S. Y., Bae, H. W., Hsueh, A. J. 1999; 140 (12): 5469-5477


    The majority of ovarian follicles undergo atresia mediated by apoptosis. Bcl-2-related proteins act as regulators of apoptosis via the formation of dimers with proteins inside and outside the Bcl-2 family. Previous studies have identified BAD as a proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member expressed in the ovary. It is known that BAD phosphorylation induced by survival factors leads to its preferential binding to 14-3-3 and suppression of the death-inducing function of BAD. To identify ovarian binding partners for hypophosphorylated BAD, we performed a yeast two-hybrid screening of a rat ovary complementary DNA library using as bait a mutant BAD incapable of binding to 14-3-3. Screening of yeast transformants yielded positive clones encoding the rat ortholog of Mcl-1 (myeloid cell leukemia-1), an antiapoptotic Bcl-2 protein. Amino acid sequence analysis revealed that rat and human Mcl-1 showed a complete conservation of the Bcl-2 homology domains BH1, BH2, and BH3. In the yeast two-hybrid system, Mcl-1 binds to the hypophosphorylated mutant of BAD and interacts preferentially with different proapoptotic (Bax, Bak, Bok, Bik, and BOD) compared with antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-w, Bfl-1, CED-9, and BHRF-1). Northern blot hybridization demonstrated expression of Mcl-1 transcripts of 2.3 and 3.7 kb in the ovary and diverse other rat tissues. In immature rats, PMSG treatment led to a transient increase in the 2.3-kb Mcl-1 transcript, peaking at 6 h after injection and returning to baseline levels after 24 h. Moreover, the same transcript was induced in the PMSG-primed preovulatory rat ovary 6 h after the administration of ovulatory doses of either hCG or FSH. In situ hybridization studies revealed that the gonadotropin stimulation of ovarian Mcl-1 message occurs in both granulosa and thecal cells. In conclusion, rat Mcl-1 was identified as an ovarian BAD-interacting protein and the message for the antiapoptotic Mcl-1 protein was induced after treatment with gonadotropins in granulosa and thecal cells of growing follicles.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000083792500002

    View details for PubMedID 10579309

  • Keratinocyte growth factor promotes the survival, growth, and differentiation of preantral ovarian follicles FERTILITY AND STERILITY Mcgee, E. A., Chun, S. Y., Lai, S., He, Y. E., Hsueh, A. J. 1999; 71 (4): 732-738


    To determine the effect of treatment with keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) on the survival of cells in cultured preantral follicles and on the growth and differentiation of preantral follicles.Preantral follicles (140-150 microm) were dissected mechanically from the ovaries of 14-day-old rats and cultured for 24 hours with and without KGF. Genomic DNA was extracted, labeled with [32P]-dideoxyadenosine triphosphate, and fractionated through agarose gels. For growth studies, the follicles were cultured individually in 96-well dishes. After 72 hours, the follicles were collected and their protein or DNA content was evaluated and their inhibin-alpha content was determined.Keratinocyte growth factor suppressed apoptosis in cultured preantral follicles by 60%. Treatment with KGF or FSH increased follicle diameter by 8% and 16%, respectively, and combined treatment with KGF and FSH increased follicle diameter by 26%. Western blot analysis demonstrated increased expression of inhibin-alpha content after treatment with KGF (2-fold), treatment with FSH (4-fold), and combined treatment with FSH and KGF (12-fold), demonstrating the effect of KGF on preantral follicle differentiation.Treatment with KGF promotes the survival, growth, and differentiation of cultured preantral follicles. Keratinocyte growth factor produced by theca cells may play a role in the progression of early follicle development.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000079355700025

    View details for PubMedID 10202888

  • Recombinant growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9) enhances growth and differentiation of cultured early ovarian follicles ENDOCRINOLOGY Hayashi, M., Mcgee, E. A., Min, G., Klein, C., Rose, U. M., van Duin, M., Hsueh, A. J. 1999; 140 (3): 1236-1244


    Transgenic mice with deletion of the GDF-9 (growth differentiation factor-9) gene are characterized by the arrest of ovarian follicle development at the primary stage. Based on the hypothesis that GDF-9 is important for early follicle development, we isolated rat GDF-9 complementary DNA (cDNA) and generated recombinant GDF-9 protein to study its physiological role. Using bacteria-derived GDF-9-glutathione S-transferase (GST) fusion protein, specific antibodies to the mature form of GDF-9 was generated. Immunohistochemical staining of ovarian sections indicated the localization of GDF-9 protein in the oocyte of primary, secondary and preantral follicles, whereas immunoblotting demonstrated the secretion of GDF-9 by mammalian cells transfected with GDF-9 cDNAs. Recombinant GDF-9 was shown to be an N-glycosylated protein capable of stimulating early follicle development. Growth of preantral follicles isolated from immature rats was enhanced by treatment with either GDF-9 or FSH whereas the combined treatment showed an additive effect. In addition, treatment with GDF-9, like forskolin, also stimulated inhibin-alpha content in explants of neonatal ovaries. In contrast, the stimulatory effects of GDF-9 were not mimicked by amino-terminal tagged GDF-9 that was apparently not bioactive. Thus, the present study demonstrates the important role of GDF-9 in early follicle growth and differentiation. The availability of recombinant bioactive GDF-9 allows future studies on the physiological role of GDF-9 in ovarian development in vivo.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000078733700029

    View details for PubMedID 10067849

  • Restricted expression of WT1 messenger ribonucleic acid in immature ovarian follicles: Uniformity in mammalian and avian species and maintenance during reproductive senescence BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION Chun, S. Y., Mcgee, E. A., Hsu, S. Y., Minami, S., LaPolt, P. S., Yao, H. H., Bahr, J. M., Gougeon, A., Schomberg, D. W., Hsueh, A. J. 1999; 60 (2): 365-373


    WT1 is a zinc finger protein with transcriptional repressor activity on several growth factor and growth factor receptor genes. In the ovary, a potential role for WT1 in the suppression of the development of immature follicles has been demonstrated. Here, gel retardation assays further showed that recombinant WT1 protein interacted with consensus DNA sequences in the inhibin-alpha gene promoter. We investigated the pattern of WT1 expression in a wide variety of species and also over the reproductive life span in rats. In chicken ovaries, Northern blot analysis revealed the presence of WT1 transcript in small healthy white follicles (1-5 mm in diameter) and its absence in small yellow (6-12 mm in diameter) or larger follicles (F1-F5). In pig and monkey ovaries, WT1 expression was limited to granulosa cells of preantral follicles, as shown by in situ hybridization analysis. In rats, Northern blot analyses demonstrated the presence of WT1 transcript in the ovaries of young (3-mo-old) and middle-aged (9-mo-old) rats on the proestrous day, with a decrease in old (12-mo-old) rats in persistent estrus. In situ hybridization analysis further suggested that the decrease in WT1 expression in aging ovaries was associated with fewer immature follicles. Thus, WT1 expression is restricted to immature follicles in diverse avian and mammalian species and over the reproductive life span in rats. These data demonstrated that WT1 is a marker for immature follicles and suggested a potential role of this transcriptional repressor in the slow growth of early follicles.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000078380900024

    View details for PubMedID 9916003

  • Characterization of two LGR genes homologous to gonadotropin and thyrotropin receptors with extracellular leucine-rich repeats and a G protein-coupled, seven-transmembrane region MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Hsu, S. Y., Liang, S. G., Hsueh, A. J. 1998; 12 (12): 1830-1845


    The receptors for LH, FSH, and TSH belong to the large G protein-coupled, seven-transmembrane (TM) protein family and are unique in having a large N-terminal extracellular (ecto-) domain containing leucine-rich repeats important for interaction with the glycoprotein ligands. We have identified two new leucine-rich repeat-containing, G protein-coupled receptors and named them as LGR4 and LGR5, respectively. The ectodomains of both receptors contain 17 leucine-rich repeats together with N- and C-terminal flanking cysteine-rich sequences, compared with 9 repeats found in known glycoprotein hormone receptors. The leucine-rich repeats in LGR4 and LGR5 are arrays of 24 amino acids showing similarity to repeats found in the acid labile subunit of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF)/IGF binding protein complexes as well as slit, decorin, and Toll proteins. The TM region and the junction between ectodomain and TM 1 are highly conserved in LGR4, LGR5, and seven other LGRs from sea anemone, fly, nematode, mollusk, and mammal, suggesting their common evolutionary origin. In contrast to the restricted tissue expression of gonadotropin and TSH receptors in gonads and thyroid, respectively, LGR4 is expressed in diverse tissues including ovary, testis, adrenal, placenta, thymus, spinal cord, and thyroid, whereas LGR5 is found in muscle, placenta, spinal cord, and brain. Hybridization analysis of genomic DNA indicated that LGR4 and LGR5 genes are conserved in mammals. Comparison of overall amino acid sequences indicated that LGR4 and LGR5 are closely related to each other but diverge, during evolution, from the homologous receptor found in snail and the mammalian glycoprotein hormone receptors. The identification and characterization of new members of the LGR subfamily of receptor genes not only allow future isolation of their ligands and understanding of their physiological roles but also reveal the evolutionary relationship of G protein-coupled receptors with leucine-rich repeats.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000077212900003

    View details for PubMedID 9849958

  • DEFT, a novel death effector domain-containing molecule predominantly expressed in testicular germ cells ENDOCRINOLOGY Leo, C. P., Hsu, S. Y., Mcgee, E. A., Salanova, M., Hsueh, A. J. 1998; 139 (12): 4839-4848


    Apoptosis is a physiological process by which multicellular organisms eliminate unwanted cells. Death factors such as Fas ligand induce apoptosis by triggering a series of intracellular protein-protein interactions mediated by defined motifs found in the signaling molecules. One of these motifs is the death effector domain (DED), a stretch of about 80 amino acids that is shared by adaptors, regulators, and executors of the death factor pathway. We have identified the human and rat complementary DNAs encoding a novel protein termed DEFT (Death EFfector domain-containing Testicular molecule). The N-terminus of DEFT shows a high degree of homology to the DEDs found in FADD (an adaptor molecule) as well as procaspase-8/FLICE and procaspase-10/Mch4 (executors of the death program). Northern blot hybridization experiments have shown that the DEFT messenger RNA (mRNA) is expressed in a variety of human and rat tissues, with particularly abundant expression in the testis. In situ hybridization analysis further indicated the expression of DEFT mRNA in meiotic male germ cells. In a model of germ cell apoptosis induction, an increase in testis DEFT mRNA was found in immature rats after 2 days of treatment with a GnRH antagonist. Unlike FADD and procaspase-8/FLICE, overexpression of DEFT did not induce apoptosis in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Although cotransfection studies indicated that DEFT is incapable of modulating apoptosis effected by FADD and procaspase-8/FLICE, interactions between DEFT and uncharacterized DED-containing molecules in the testis remain to be studied in the future. In conclusion, we have identified a novel DED-containing protein with high expression in testis germ cells. This protein may be important in the regulation of death factor-induced apoptosis in the testis and other tissues.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000077104000011

    View details for PubMedID 9832420

  • A splicing variant of the Bcl-2 member Bok with a truncated BH3 domain induces apoptosis but does not dimerize with antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins in vitro JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 1998; 273 (46): 30139-30146


    Bok (Bcl-2-related ovarian killer) is a proapoptotic Bcl-2 family protein identified in the ovary based on its dimerization with the antiapoptotic protein Mcl-1. In addition to the Bcl-2 homology (BH) domains 1 and 2 and the transmembrane sequence, Bok also has a BH3 domain believed to be important for dimerization with selective antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins and cell killing. We identified a splicing variant of Bok mRNA with a deletion of 43 residues from the full-length protein (Bok-L), leading to the fusion of the N-terminal-half of its BH3 domain to the C-terminal-half of the BH1 domain. Genomic analysis indicated that the Bok has five exons, and the short form of Bok (Bok-S) represents the splicing out of exon three during transcription. Although Bok-S retains the apoptosis-inducing activity in transfected cells, it has lost the ability to dimerize with antiapoptotic proteins in vitro. Additional BH3 domain mutations of Bok-L also led to defective heterodimerization without affecting its proapoptotic action. Furthermore, similar deletions for the related channel-forming proapoptotic Bax and Bak did not impair their cell killing ability. Thus, the naturally occurring Bok-S variant represents a new form of proapoptotic protein that induces cell killing without heterodimerization with antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins. This variant appears to contain the minimal module spanning BH1 and BH2 domains and the transmembrane sequence for apoptosis induction by channel-forming Bcl-2 proteins.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000077008100016

    View details for PubMedID 9804769

  • Characterization of 2 LGR genes homologous to gonadotropin and thyrotropin receptors with extracellular leucine-rich repeats (LRR) and a 7-transmembrane region Hsu, S. Y., Liang, S., Hsueh, A. J. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY. 1998: 215A–215A
  • Intracellular mechanisms of ovarian cell apoptosis XIth International Workshop on Development and Function of the Reproductive Organs - Genetic and Endocrine Basis of Gonadal Failure Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 1998: 21–25


    Apoptosis is an active cell 'suicide' essential for the elimination of superfluous cells during diverse physiological processes in essentially all animal species. Although regulation of apoptosis by extracellular mediators is cell type-specific, new insights based on characterization of conserved intracellular effectors have suggested that intracellular pathways leading to apoptosis in diverse organisms is regulated by a group of evolutionarily conserved genes including ced-9/Bcl-2, ced-4/Apaf-1 and ced3/caspases gene families. To study whether the Bcl-2 family proteins are important in the regulation of ovarian cell apoptosis, we have used transgenic mice and yeast 2-hybrid protein protein interaction assay to characterize the roles of Bcl-2 family proteins in ovarian atresia. The use of 2-hybrid analysis resulted in the isolation of a novel pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein, Bcl-2-related ovarian killer (Bok) and the identification of upstream mediators for ovarian cell apoptosis.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000077723300005

    View details for PubMedID 9922095

  • BOD (Bcl-2-Related ovarian death gene) is an ovarian BH3 domain-containing proapoptotic Bcl-2 protein capable of dimerization with diverse antiapoptotic Bcl-2 members MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Hsu, S. Y., Lin, P., Hsueh, A. J. 1998; 12 (9): 1432-1440


    Using the yeast two-hybrid protein-protein interaction system to search for genes capable of forming dimers with the antiapoptotic protein Mcl-1, we have isolated BOD (Bcl-2-related ovarian death agonist) from an ovarian fusion cDNA library. The three variants of BOD (long, medium, and short) have an open reading frame of 196, 110, and 93 amino acids, respectively; all of them contain a consensus Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3) domain but lack other BH domains found in channel-forming Bcl-2 family proteins. In the yeast cell assay, BOD interacts with diverse antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins [Mcl-1, Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-w, Bfl-1, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) BHRF-1] but not with different proapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins (BAD, Bak, Bok, and Bax). After overexpression in mammalian Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, BOD induces apoptosis that can be prevented by the baculoviral caspase inhibitor P35. The cell-killing activity of BOD is also antagonized in cells cotransfected with the antiapoptotic Bcl-w protein, which showed high affinity for BOD in the two-hybrid assay. Furthermore, mutagenesis studies showed that BOD mutants with alterations in the BH3 domain lose cell-killing ability, suggesting that the BH3 domain is important for the mediation of cell killing by BOD. BOD mRNA is ubiquitously expressed in ovary and multiple other tissues. The BOD gene is also conserved in diverse mammalian species. Identification of BOD expands the group of proapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins that only contains the BH3 domain and allows future elucidation of the intracellular mechanism for apoptosis regulation in ovary and other tissues.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000075601200014

    View details for PubMedID 9731710

  • Paracrine mechanisms of ovarian follicle apoptosis Workshop on Paracrine Mechanisms in Female Reproduction Chun, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 1998: 63–75


    It has become evident that the physiological removal of cells through apoptosis during embryonic and postnatal development of multicellular organisms is a mandatory process to maintain a homeostatic state of the individual. In the ovary, massive cell death occurs during neonatal and postnatal life as an integral part of the normal ovarian development. At birth, mammalian ovaries are endowed with a fixed number of non-growing follicles that will be gradually recruited into a growing pool during reproductive life. Once follicles start growth they are either selected for ovulation or, for the majority of them, removed by apoptosis. Thus, removal of excess ovarian cells by apoptosis is necessary for normal development of the ovary. Despite the important role of follicle atresia in the maintenance of normal follicle development, studies on the hormonal control of follicle cell demise during follicle growth have not been possible until the recent development of apoptosis detection methods. Recent biochemical analysis has revealed the occurrence of internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, a hallmark of apoptosis, in atretic follicles and has facilitated the investigation into the intra-ovarian hormonal regulation of follicle atresia. This review summarizes the recent advances in the intra-ovarian hormonal mechanisms that control follicle apoptosis.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000075985300005

    View details for PubMedID 9786453

  • Cell death and survival during ovarian follicle development Ares-Serono Foundation Workshop on Developmental Endocrinology - Roles of Genes and Growth Factors During Embryogenesis and Development of Endocrine Structures Mcgee, E. A., Hsu, S. Y., Kaipia, A., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 1998: 15–18


    Mammalian germ cells arise in the yolk sac endoderm at the caudal aspect of the embryo and migrate to the mesodermally-derived gonadal ridge early in development. After the oogonia reach the gonadal ridge, the process of meiosis begins which coincides with the first major wave of apoptosis of female germ cells (Coucouvanis et al., 1993). Subsequently, oocytes progress to the dictyate stage of prophase I where they remain arrested until ovulation.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000075156000004

    View details for PubMedID 9722162

  • Soluble ecto-domain mutant of thyrotropin (TSH) receptor incapable of binding TSH neutralizes the action of thyroid-stimulating antibodies from graves' patients ENDOCRINOLOGY Osuga, Y., Liang, S. G., Dallas, J. S., Wang, C., Hsueh, A. J. 1998; 139 (2): 671-676


    A soluble form of the amino-terminal extracellular (ecto-) domain of the human TSH receptor was generated. This protein was capable of binding TSH and autoimmune antibodies found in Graves' patients. A deletion mutant of the ectodomain lacking nine amino acids in the C-terminal region lost its ability to interact with TSH but retained binding to Graves' IgGs. In cells expressing recombinant TSH receptors, cotreatment with the mutant protein blocked the cAMP production induced by stimulating antibodies from all Graves' patients tested but was without effect on TSH action. The ability to dissociate the actions of TSH and Graves' IgGs provides a tool with which to study the mechanisms underlying Graves' disease and the possibility of neutralizing the undesirable effects of thyroid-stimulating antibodies without altering the normal responses to TSH.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000071491000034

    View details for PubMedID 9449640

  • DEFT, a novel death effector domain-containing molecule with predominant testicular expression. Leo, C. P., Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. SOC STUDY REPRODUCTION. 1998: 74–75
  • Expression and function of a proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bcl-XL/Bcl-2-associated death promoter (BAD) in rat ovary ENDOCRINOLOGY Kaipia, A., Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 138 (12): 5497-5504


    Bcl-2-related anti- and proapoptotic proteins are important in the decision step of the intracellular death program upstream from the caspase proteases. Targeted overexpression of Bcl-2 in ovarian somatic cells of transgenic mice leads to decreased apoptosis of granulosa cells and is associated with higher ovulation rate, increased litter size, and ovarian teratoma formation. The ability of exogenous Bcl-2 proteins to promote follicle cell survival suggests that the transgene can bind to endogenous ovarian Bcl-2 family members and modulate the intracellular apoptosis process in favor of cell survival. We used the yeast two-hybrid system to search for ovarian Bcl-2 interacting proteins. The screening of an ovarian fusion complementary DNA library yielded several clones encoding for the death agonist Bcl-XL/Bcl-2-associated death promoter (BAD). Dimerization of Bcl-2-related proteins mediated by the consensus Bcl-2 homology (BH) domains is essential for their apoptosis-regulating function. Consistent with these observations, yeast two-hybrid assays indicated that the interaction of Bcl-2 with BAD is dependent on both BH4 and BH2 domains of Bcl-2. Northern blot analysis showed a wide distribution of BAD messenger RNA (mRNA) in diverse tissues with highest levels in the lung, ovary, uterus, and brain. In situ hybridization analysis indicated BAD mRNA expression in granulosa cells of different sizes of follicles and also in the theca and interstitial cells. BAD mRNA was expressed in the ovaries between postnatal 15-27 days and did not alter during the developmentally occurring apoptosis found about postnatal day 18 when the first group of early antral follicles were formed. Similarly, BAD mRNA levels did not change during follicle atresia induced by estrogen withdrawal in immature rats. To study the role of BAD in the ovary, BAD complementary DNA was transfected into primary cultures of granulosa cells and in a gonadal tumor cell line. Overexpression of BAD induced apoptosis in both cell types, and the effect of BAD was reversed by a membrane-permeable caspase inhibitor, indicating that BAD induces apoptosis via the activation of caspase cysteine proteases. In summary, the death agonist BAD was identified as a Bcl-2-interacting protein in the ovary, and BAD mRNA is constitutively expressed in granulosa cells, suggesting that BAD is an essential part of the ovarian cell death process. Because BAD overexpression in granulosa cells leads to apoptosis, future studies on ovarian BAD binding proteins and hormonal regulation of the interactions among different Bcl-2 family members could provide a better understanding of the cellular mechanism of ovarian follicle atresia.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997YH19000053

    View details for PubMedID 9389536

  • Bok is a pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein with restricted expression in reproductive tissues and heterodimerizes with selective anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Hsu, S. Y., Kaipia, A., McGee, E., Lomeli, M., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 94 (23): 12401-12406


    In the intracellular death program, hetero- and homodimerization of different anti- and pro-apoptotic Bcl-2-related proteins are critical in the determination of cell fate. From a rat ovarian fusion cDNA library, we isolated a new pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 gene, Bcl-2-related ovarian killer (Bok). Bok had conserved Bcl-2 homology (BH) domains 1, 2, and 3 and a C-terminal transmembrane region present in other Bcl-2 proteins, but lacked the BH4 domain found only in anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins. In the yeast two-hybrid system, Bok interacted strongly with some (Mcl-1, BHRF1, and Bfl-1) but not other (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Bcl-w) anti-apoptotic members. This finding is in direct contrast to the ability of other pro-apoptotic members (Bax, Bak, and Bik) to interact with all of the anti-apoptotic proteins. In addition, negligible interaction was found between Bok and different pro-apoptotic members. In mammalian cells, overexpression of Bok induced apoptosis that was blocked by the baculoviral-derived cysteine protease inhibitor P35. Cell killing induced by Bok was also suppressed following coexpression with Mcl-1 and BHRF1 but not with Bcl-2, further indicating that Bok heterodimerized only with selective anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins. Northern blot analysis indicated that Bok was highly expressed in the ovary, testis and uterus. In situ hybridization analysis localized Bok mRNA in granulosa cells, the cell type that underwent apoptosis during follicle atresia. Identification of Bok as a new pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein with restricted tissue distribution and heterodimerization properties could facilitate elucidation of apoptosis mechanisms in reproductive tissues undergoing hormone-regulated cyclic cell turnover.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997YF39300030

    View details for PubMedID 9356461

  • Interference of BAD (Bcl-xL/Bcl-2-associated death promoter)-induced apoptosis in mammalian cells by 14-3-3 isoforms and P11 MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Hsu, S. Y., Kaipia, A., Zhu, L., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 11 (12): 1858-1867


    Apoptosis and survival of diverse cell types are under hormonal control, but intracellular mechanisms regulating cell death are unclear. The Bcl-2/Ced-9 family of proteins contains conserved Bcl-2 homology regions that mediate the formation of homo- or heterodimers important for enhancing or suppressing apoptosis. Unlike most other members of the Bcl-2 family, BAD (Bcl-xL/Bcl-2 associated death promoter), a death enhancer, has no C-terminal transmembrane domain for targeting to the outer mitochondrial membrane and nuclear envelope. We hypothesized that BAD, in addition to binding Bcl-xL and Bcl-2, may interact with proteins outside the Bcl-2 family. Using the yeast two-hybrid system to search for BAD-binding proteins in an ovarian fusion cDNA library, we identified multiple cDNA clones encoding different isoforms of 14-3-3, a group of evolutionally conserved proteins essential for signal transduction and cell cycle progression. Point mutation of BAD in one (S137A), but not the other (S113A), putative binding site found in diverse 14-3-3 interacting proteins abolished the interaction between BAD and 14-3-3 without affecting interactions between BAD and Bcl-2. Because the S137A BAD mutant presumably resembles an underphosphorylated form of BAD, we used this mutant to screen for additional BAD-interacting proteins in the yeast two-hybrid system. P11, a nerve growth factor-induced neurite extension factor and member of the calcium-binding S-100 protein family, interacted strongly with the mutant BAD but less effectively with the wild type protein. In Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, transient expression of wild type BAD or its mutants increased apoptotic cell death, which was blocked by cotransfection with the baculovirus-derived cysteine protease inhibitor, P35. Cotransfection with 14-3-3 suppressed apoptosis induced by wild type or the S113A mutant BAD but not by the S137A mutant incapable of binding 14-3-3. Furthermore, cotransfection with P11 attenuated the proapoptotic effect of both wild type BAD and the S137A mutant. For both 14-3-3 and P11, direct binding to BAD was also demonstrated in vitro. These results suggest that both 14-3-3 and P11 may function as BAD-binding proteins to dampen its apoptotic activity. Because the 14-3-3 family of proteins could interact with key signaling proteins including Raf-1 kinase, protein kinase C, and phosphatidyl inositol 3 kinase, whereas P11 is an early response gene induced by the neuronal survival factor, nerve growth factor, the present findings suggest that BAD plays an important role in mediating communication between different signal transduction pathways regulated by hormonal signals and the apoptotic mechanism controlled by Bcl-2 family members.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997YD56300011

    View details for PubMedID 9369453

  • Follicle-stimulating hormone enhances the development of preantral follicles in juvenile rats BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION Mcgee, E. A., Perlas, E., LaPolt, P. S., Tsafriri, A., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 57 (5): 990-998


    The stimulatory effects of gonadotropins on antral and preovulatory follicles are well known, but conflicting results have been reported regarding the gonadotropin responsiveness and dependency of preantral follicles. Taking advantage of the relatively uniform development of the first wave of follicles in the postnatal rat ovary, we evaluated the role of endogenous and exogenous gonadotropins on preantral follicle development. Reduction of the high levels of gonadotropins present in juvenile rats by either hypophysectomy (at Day 15) or GnRH antagonist treatment (starting from Day 11 of age) resulted in decreased ovarian weight at Day 19 of age that was associated with a reduced number of developing follicles and increased atresia of remaining follicles. In contrast, treatment with FSHctp (a long-acting FSH agonist) in intact (Days 5-19 of age), hypophysectomized (Days 15-19), or GnRH antagonist-treated (Days 11-19) animals resulted in increased ovarian weight and follicle development as determined histologically and by inhibin-alpha expression. A dose-dependent stimulatory effect of hCG on ovarian weight was seen when animals were cotreated with FSHctp and the GnRH antagonist. At low doses of hCG, augmentation of antral follicle formation occurred, whereas higher doses of hCG led to morphological signs of luteinization. These findings demonstrate the important role of endogenous gonadotropins in preantral follicle development and indicate that preantral follicles are highly responsive to exogenous gonadotropins.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997YD11400006

    View details for PubMedID 9369162

  • Co-expression of defective luteinizing hormone receptor fragments partially reconstitutes ligand-induced signal generation JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Osuga, Y., Hayashi, M., Kudo, M., Conti, M., Kobilka, B., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 272 (40): 25006-25012


    Gonadotropin receptors are unique members of the seven-transmembrane (TM), G protein-coupled receptor family with a large extracellular (EC) sequence forming the high-affinity ligand binding domain. In a patient with Leydig cell hypoplasia, we identified a mutant LH receptor that is truncated at TM5. This protein retains limited ligand binding ability but cannot mediate cAMP responses. To study interactions between receptor fragments defective in either ligand binding or signal transduction, we co-expressed this truncated receptor together with a chimeric receptor containing the EC region of the FSH receptor and the TM region of the LH receptor. Although the chimeric receptor could not respond to human chorionic gonadotropin in producing cAMP, co-expression with the truncated LH receptor allowed partial restoration of ligand signaling through intermolecular interactions. In addition, co-expression of the same truncated LH receptor with an N-terminally truncated LH receptor that lacked the EC ligand binding domain also partially restored ligand signaling. Further shortening of the TM region in the mutant receptor found in the patient indicated that the EC domain and TM1 were sufficient for interactions with the N terminally truncated receptor. In contrast, co-expression of the N terminally truncated receptor together with cell-associated or soluble EC region of the LH receptor did not allow ligand signaling. Unlike thrombin receptors, co-expression of the anchored EC region of the LH receptor together with the N-terminally truncated receptor did not allow ligand signaling despite moderate levels of human chorionic gonadotropin binding in transfected cells. These studies demonstrate that the co-expression of binding (+)/signaling (-) and binding (-)/signaling (+) receptor fragments partially restores ligand-induced signal generation and indicate the importance of TM1 of the LH receptor in the proper orientation of the EC ligand binding domain.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XY97000046

    View details for PubMedID 9312107

  • Derivation of functional antagonists using N-terminal extracellular domain of gonadotropin and thyrotropin receptors MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Osuga, Y., Kudo, M., Kaipia, A., Kobilka, B., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 11 (11): 1659-1668


    Receptors for the glycoprotein hormones, LH/CG, FSH, and TSH, are a unique subclass of the seven-transmembrane, G protein-coupled proteins with a large N-terminal extracellular (ecto-) domain. Although ecto-domains of gonadotropin receptors confer ligand binding, expression of soluble binding proteins has been difficult. We fused the ecto-domains of LH or FSH receptors to the single-transmembrane domain of CD8 and found that hybrid proteins anchored on the cell surface retained high-affinity ligand binding. Inclusion of a junctional thrombin cleavage site in the hybrids allowed generation of soluble receptor fragments that interfered with gonadotropin binding to their receptors and blocked cAMP production stimulated by gonadotropins. Cross-linking analyses confirmed the formation of high molecular weight complexes between receptor ecto-domains and their specific ligands. A similar approach also generated a soluble TSH receptor fragment capable of blocking TSH-induced signal transduction. When administered to rats, the soluble FSH receptor fragment retarded testis growth and induced testis cell apoptosis. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of generating ligand-binding regions of glycoprotein hormone receptors to selectively neutralize actions of gonadotropins and TSH, thus allowing future design of novel contraceptives and management of different gonadal and thyroid dysfunction. The present study represents the first successful derivation of soluble, ligand-binding domains from glycoprotein hormone receptors as functional antagonists. Similar approaches could allow generation of ecto-domains of related receptors to neutralize actions of ligands or receptor antibodies and to facilitate structural-functional analysis.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XY29500009

    View details for PubMedID 9328348

  • Interference of BAD-induced apoptosis in mammalian cells by 14-3-3 isoforms and P11 Hsu, S. Y., Kaipia, A., Zhu, L., Hsueh, A. J. FEDERATION AMER SOC EXP BIOL. 1997: A1241–A1241
  • Hormonal regulation of apoptosis - An ovarian perspective TRENDS IN ENDOCRINOLOGY AND METABOLISM Hsu, S. Y., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 8 (5): 207-213


    Using the ovary as a model system for studying the hormonal regulation of apoptosis, recent studies have revealed that the survival of growing follicles is under the regulation of a complex array of hormones through endocrine, paracrine, autocrine, or juxtacrine mechanism in a development-dependent manner. More effort is needed, however, to identify tissue-specific factors required for the survival of ovarian somatic and germ cells at specific stage of development. New insights based on characterization of conserved apoptotic effectors, both extracellular and intracellular, have suggested that apoptosis in ovarian cells may be mediated by apoptotic programs common to other cells but using specific members of the death domain proteins as well as ced-9/Bcl-2 and ced-3/ICE caspase families of genes. Future studies may provide new therapeutic modalities for different ovarian diseases caused by aberrant regulation of apoptosis in ovarian cells, including premature ovarian failure and polycystic ovarian syndrome. (Trends Endocrinol Metab 1997;8:207-213). (c) 1997, Elsevier Science Inc.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XN65100006

    View details for PubMedID 18406807

  • Preantral ovarian follicles in serum-free culture: Suppression of apoptosis after activation of the cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate pathway and stimulation of growth and differentiation by follicle-stimulating hormone ENDOCRINOLOGY McGee, E., Spears, N., Minami, S., Hsu, S. Y., Chun, S. Y., Billig, H., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 138 (6): 2417-2424


    Progression of preantral follicle development is essential to further follicle maturation and ovulation, but there are few models for studying the regulation of preantral follicle survival and growth. We have evaluated preantral follicle survival in vivo and in vitro, and have developed a serum-free rat follicle culture system that can be used to characterize the regulation of preantral follicle growth and differentiation. Analysis of ovarian cell DNA fragmentation during the first wave of follicle growth in the infantile rat indicated negligible apoptosis up to day 16 of age. However, a major increase in apoptosis was found by day 18, a time point associated with the appearance of large antral follicles. In situ analysis confirmed that apoptotic DNA fragments were limited to antral follicles. Culture of individual preantral follicles mechanically dissected from ovaries of 12- or 14-day-old rats in serum-free conditions led to major increases in follicle cell apoptosis, similar to that seen in cultures of antral and preovulatory follicles. In contrast to antral and preovulatory follicles, treatment of preantral follicles with gonadotropins or cAMP analogs did not prevent apoptosis. However, treatment with 8-bromo-cGMP or 10% serum suppressed apoptosis by 75% in cultured preantral follicles. In situ analysis identified granulosa cells as the cell type susceptible to apoptosis regulation. Taking advantage of the ability of the cGMP analog to suppress apoptosis, we evaluated the potential of FSH as a growth factor. In the absence of serum, FSH treatment for 48 h did not affect follicle size compared to controls; however, treatment with the cGMP analog together with FSH increased follicle diameter (13%; P < 0.01) and viable cells (2.4-fold; P < 0.01) compared to control values. Immunoblot analysis further indicated that the inhibin-alpha content of the cultured follicles was increased by treatment with the combination of FSH and 8-bromo-cGMP, demonstrating the induction of follicle cell differentiation during culture. Therefore, we demonstrated that activation of the cGMP pathway promotes the survival of cultured preantral follicles and that in the presence of alpha cGMP analog, FSH is a growth and differentiation factor for preantral follicles. The present serum-free follicle culture model system will be useful in further evaluation of the regulation of growth and differentiation of preantral follicles.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XA02500030

    View details for PubMedID 9165031

  • Telomerase activity in female and male rat germ cells undergoing meiosis and in early embryos BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION EISENHAUER, K. M., Gerstein, R. M., Chiu, C. P., Conti, M., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 56 (5): 1120-1125


    Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein that synthesizes telomeric DNA at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. It has been hypothesized that telomerase activity is necessary for cellular immortalization and that telomerase activity is present in cells of germline origin. The objective of the present study was to determine the level of telomerase activity in the following rat cells: 1) oocytes from follicles at different stages of development, 2) spermatogenic cells, and 3) early embryos. Telomerase activity was quantitated using a recently developed, sensitive polymerase chain reaction-based assay and a human kidney cell line (293) as a standard. Telomerase activity was found in oocytes from early antral and preovulatory follicles, as well as in ovulated oocytes. The level of enzyme activity in early antral and preovulatory follicles was comparable to that of the 293 cells, while levels in ovulated oocytes were 50-fold lower. Telomerase activity was present in even lower levels in pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids, and no telomerase activity was detected in spermatozoa from either the caput or the cauda epididymis. After fertilization, telomerase activity was present in 4-cell embryos. Telomerase activity was also detected in several rat somatic tissues. These data demonstrate that telomerase activity is present in germ cells at several stages of differentiation, with the exception of spermatozoa, and suggest that telomerase activity may be important during meiosis. The high levels of telomerase activity in individual oocytes may serve as a marker for monitoring the effects of hormonal agents, aging, and toxins on oocyte quality.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997WV69100007

    View details for PubMedID 9160709

  • Regulation of ovarian follicle atresia ANNUAL REVIEW OF PHYSIOLOGY Kaipia, A., Hsueh, A. J. 1997; 59: 349-363


    The majority of ovarian follicles undergo atresia, a hormonally controlled apoptotic process. Monitoring apoptotic DNA fragmentation provides a quantitative and sensitive endpoint to study the hormonal regulation of atresia in ovarian follicles. During follicle development, gonadotropins, together with local ovarian growth factors (IGF-I, EGF/TGF-alpha, basic FGF) and cytokine (interleukin-1 beta), as well as estrogens, activate different intracellular pathways to rescue follicles from apoptotic demise. In contrast, TNF-alpha, Fas ligand, presumably acting through receptors with a death domain, and androgens are atretogenic factors. These diverse hormonal signals probably converge on selective intracellular pathways (including genes of the bcl-2 and ICE families) to regulate apoptosis. With a constant loss of follicles from the original stockpile, the ovary provides a unique model for studying the hormonal regulation of apoptosis.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997WM92200016

    View details for PubMedID 9074768

  • Conversion of heterodimeric gonadotropins to genetically linked single chains: new approaches to structure-activity relationships and analog design IX Reiner-de-Graaf Symposium on FSH Action and Intraovarian Regulation Boime, I., BENMENAHEM, D., Kudo, M., Sugahara, T., Sato, A., Hsueh, A. J. PARTHENON PUBLISHING GROUP LTD. 1997: 3–10
  • The IX Reinier De Graaf Lecture - Hormone regulation of apoptotic cell death during ovarian follicle atresia IX Reiner-de-Graaf Symposium on FSH Action and Intraovarian Regulation Chun, S. Y., Kaipia, A., Hsueh, A. J. PARTHENON PUBLISHING GROUP LTD. 1997: 221–231
  • Expression of biologically active fusion genes encoding the common alpha subunit and either the CG beta or FSH beta subunits: Role of a linker sequence International Conference on Gonadotropins and Their Receptors Sugahara, T., Grootenhuis, P. D., Sato, A., Kudo, M., BENMENAHEM, D., Pixley, M. R., Hsueh, A. J., Boime, I. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 1996: 71–77


    The gonadotropin/thyrotropin hormone family is characterized by a heterodimeric structure composed of a common alpha subunit non-covalently linked to a hormone-specific beta subunit. The conformation of the heterodimer is essential for controlling secretion, hormone-specific post-translational modifications and signal transduction. Structure-function studies of FSH and the other glycoprotein hormones are often hampered by mutagenesis induced defects in subunit combination. Thus, the ability to overcome the limitation of subunit assembly would expand the range of structure activity relationships that can be performed on these hormones. Here we converted the FSH heterodimer to a single chain by genetically fusing the carboxyl end of the FSH beta subunit to the amino end of the alpha subunit in the presence or absence of a natural linker sequence. In the absence of the CTP linker, the secretion rate was decreased over three fold. (The CTP sequence is the last 28 amino acids of the CG beta sequence and contains four serine-linked oligosaccharides). Unexpectedly however receptor binding/signal transduction was unaffected by absence of the linker. Molecular modelling of the tethers lacking the linker sequence show that the alignment of the alpha/beta domains in the single chain differ substantially from that seen in the heterodimer. These data show that the single chain FSH was secreted efficiently and is biologically active and that the conformation determinants required for secretion and biologic activity are not the same.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996WC92300008

    View details for PubMedID 9027345

  • Targeted overexpression of Bcl-2 in ovaries of transgenic mice leads to decreased follicle apoptosis, enhanced folliculogenesis, and increased germ cell tumorigenesis ENDOCRINOLOGY Hsu, S. Y., LAI, R. J., Finegold, M., Hsueh, A. J. 1996; 137 (11): 4837-4843


    We have generated transgenic mice overexpressing Bcl-2, an apoptosis suppression protein, in ovarian cells using the inhibit-alpha gene promoter/enhancer. Ovarian apoptotic DNA fragmentation induced in immature animals by a low dose (2 IU) of PMSG was suppressed by greater than 55% in transgenic mice compared to their wild-type littermates. Morphological and in situ DNA end-labeling analyses showed that granulosa cells in large antral follicles of wild-type animals undergo apoptosis, but most follicles in transgenic animals are healthy. When the animals were treated with a high dose (4 IU) of PMSG to stimulate follicular growth, spontaneous ovulation was observed in 14 of 23 (61%) of the transgenic animals, but in only 3 of 18 (17%) of wild-type siblings. Furthermore, transgenic females had a larger litter size (9.07 +/- 0.25 pups/litter; n = 29) than wild-type controls (7.54 +/- 0.26 pups/litter; n = 28; P < 0.01). These data suggested that decreased ovarian apoptosis in transgenic animals could lead to enhanced folliculogenesis and ovulatory potential. Moreover, aging transgenic mice are susceptible to the development of benign cystic ovarian teratoma (4 in 20 transgenic animals and 0 in 26 wild-type controls). Some tumor tissues showed respiratory and intestinal cell types, whereas others showed the development of central nervous system-like structures. Because the bcl-2 transgene in these animals is overexpressed in somatic cells, but not oocytes, these findings suggest that enhanced survival of selected somatic cells in transgenic mice could lead to germ cell tumorigenesis. Thus, overexpression of Bcl-2 protein in the ovary leads to decreased ovarian somatic cell apoptosis, enhanced folliculogenesis, and increased susceptibility to ovarian germ cell tumorigenesis in transgenic animals. The present mouse model allows future studies on intracellular signal pathways regulating follicular atresia and on the potential role of ovarian somatic cell factors in germ cell tumorigenesis.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VN80900042

    View details for PubMedID 8895354

  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha and its second messenger, ceramide, stimulate apoptosis in cultured ovarian follicles ENDOCRINOLOGY Kaipia, A., Chun, S. Y., Eisenhauer, K., Hsueh, A. J. 1996; 137 (11): 4864-4870


    In the mammalian ovary, only a small fraction of follicles fully mature and ovulate, while most of them die via apoptosis. Multiple factors promoting follicle survival have been identified, but intraovarian mediators of apoptosis are poorly known. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) is a cytokine capable of inducing apoptosis in diverse cell types, and the apoptotic effect of TNF alpha is, partially, coupled to the sphingomyelin signaling pathway with ceramide as a second messenger. Because TNF alpha has been localized in the rat ovary, and TNF alpha treatment increases granulosa cell ceramide production, we studied the effect of treatment with TNF alpha and ceramide on follicle apoptosis. Immature rats were implanted with diethylstilbestrol to stimulate the development of early antral follicles. Follicles were isolated and cultured in a serum-free medium for 24 h with or without hormone treatments. During culture, spontaneous follicle apoptosis occurred (10-fold increase in DNA fragmentation), which was partially blocked by 100 ng/ml FSH (60% suppression). The effect of FSH was counteracted by TNF alpha in a dose-dependent manner, with the maximal effect at 100 ng/ml TNF alpha (90% reversal of FSH action). In situ analysis indicated that the granulosa cell is the follicle cell type undergoing DNA fragmentation. A membrane-permeable ceramide analog, C2-ceramide N-acetyl sphingosine, mimicked the effect of TNF alpha and was able to completely abolish the action of FSH at 50 microM. In contrast, another ceramide analog, C2-dihydroceramide N-acetyl dihydrosphingosine, did not alter the effect of FSH, verifying the specificity of ceramide action. To study the mechanism of TNF alpha and ceramide action, the effect of sodium aurathiomalate (ATM), an inhibitor of interleukin-1 beta-converting enzyme/ced-3-related cystine proteases known to be essential in the execution of mammalian cell apoptosis, was studied. Treatment with ATM (1 mM) prevented the apoptosis-inducing effect of both TNF alpha and ceramide, suggesting a role for cysteine proteases in mediating follicle apoptosis. Treatment with either TNF alpha or ceramide increased both basal and FSH-stimulated progesterone production by cultured follicles. Concomitant treatment by ATM did not alter the stimulatory effect of TNF alpha or ceramide on progesterone production, ruling out nonspecific toxic effect of the inhibitor and indicating that the apoptotic and steroidogenic pathways are independent. In summary, treatment with TNF alpha or its second messenger, ceramide, stimulates apoptosis of early antral follicles in culture, suggesting a potential role for TNF alpha as an intraovarian regulator of follicle atresia by acting through the ceramide signaling pathway.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VN80900046

    View details for PubMedID 8895358

  • Oocyte maturation involves compartmentalization and opposing changes of cAMP levels in follicular somatic and germ cells: Studies using selective phosphodiesterase inhibitors DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY Tsafriri, A., Chun, S. Y., Zhang, R., Hsueh, A. J., Conti, M. 1996; 178 (2): 393-402


    The second messenger cAMP has been implicated in the regulation of mammalian and amphibian oocyte maturation. Although a decrease in intraoocyte levels of cAMP precedes germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), the gonadotropin induction of ovulation and oocyte maturation is associated with major increases of cAMP in ovarian follicles. In the mammalian system, isolated oocytes undergo spontaneous maturation in vitro but this process is blocked by treatment with a phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor, IBMX, which increases intraoocyte cAMP levels. In contrast, the same inhibitor, when added to cultured follicles for a brief time, increases follicle cAMP levels, followed by the induction of GVBD. To resolve the paradoxical actions of this PDE inhibitor on the maturation of isolated and follicle-enclosed oocytes, we hypothesized that meiotic maturation requires opposing fluctuations of cAMP levels in the somatic granulosa and germ cells. Such opposing fluctuations may result from selective expression and regulation of PDEs in the somatic and germ cell compartments of the follicle. To test this hypothesis, PDE activity was manipulated in different follicular cells using type-specific inhibitors. The impact of the ensuing changes in cAMP levels in the two compartments was monitored by the induction of GVBD. In isolated oocytes, spontaneous GVBD was blocked by two inhibitors of type 3 PDE (cGMP-inhibited: CGI-PDE), milrinone and cilostamide. In contrast, treatment with an inhibitor for type 4 PDE (cAMP-specific), rolipram, was ineffective. These findings suggest that the oocyte expresses type 3 but not type 4 PDE and that increases in intraoocyte cAMP suppress GVBD. This hypothesis was confirmed by in situ hybridization studies with PDE3 and PDE4 probes. PDE3B mRNA was concentrated in oocytes while PDE4D was mainly expressed in granulosa cells. In cultured follicles, LH treatment induced oocyte maturation but the gonadotropin action was blocked by inhibitors of type 3 but not the type 4 PDE inhibitors. Furthermore, treatment with the type 4, but not the type 3, PDE inhibitor mimics the action of LH and induces oocyte maturation, presumably by increasing cAMP levels in granulosa cells. Our findings indicate that PDE subtypes 4 and 3 are located in follicle somatic and germ cells, respectively. Preferential inhibition of PDE 3 in the oocyte may lead to a delay in oocyte maturation without affecting the cAMP-induced ovulatory process in the somatic cells. Conversely, selective suppression of granulosa cell cAMP-PDE may enhance the gonadotropin induction of ovulation and oocyte maturation. Thus, in addition to the well-recognized differential expression and regulation of adenylate cyclase in the somatic and germ cell compartments of the follicle, we suggest that selective regulation and expression of PDEs may be involved in the regulation of cAMP levels and control of oocyte maturation in the preovulatory mammalian follicle.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VL19700015

    View details for PubMedID 8812137

  • Transmembrane regions V and VI of the human luteinizing hormone receptor are required for constitutive activation by a mutation in the third intracellular loop JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Kudo, M., Osuga, Y., Kobilka, B. K., Hsueh, A. J. 1996; 271 (37): 22470-22478


    Gonadotropin receptors are members of the seven-transmembrane (TM) receptor family. Several point mutations in TM V and VI and the intracellular loop 3 (i3) have been identified in the luteinizing hormone (LH) receptor gene, leading to constitutive activation of the receptor. Because gonadotropin receptors are highly conserved, we mutated the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) receptor at the corresponding amino acids. However, the FSH receptor mutants showed minimal increases in basal cAMP production. Taking advantage of this difference between the two receptors, we designed chimeric receptors with or without a point mutation in the i3 to identify the region in the LH receptor important for its constitutive activation. Introduction of the point mutation into chimeric receptors containing only TM V to VI from the LH receptor led to major increases in ligand-independent cAMP production. Furthermore, a chimeric receptor with only TM V and VI derived from the LH receptor can be rendered constitutively active by the mutation in the i3 from the FSH receptor. These results suggest that interactions between TM V and VI of the FSH receptor are essential for maintaining the receptor in the more constrained state, whereas interactions between these domains of the LH receptor are permissive for constitutively activating mutations in the i3.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VG67200031

    View details for PubMedID 8798412

  • The C-terminal third of the human luteinizing hormone (LH) receptor is important for inositol phosphate release: Analysis using chimeric human LH/follicle-stimulating hormone receptors MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Hirsch, B., Kudo, M., Naro, F., Conti, M., Hsueh, A. J. 1996; 10 (9): 1127-1137


    Gonadotropin and TSH receptors represent a subgroup of seven transmembrane-spanning, G protein-coupled receptors with a large extracellular ligand-binding region. After ligand binding to their receptors, the majority of actions of gonadotropins and TSH are believed to be mediated by the cAMP-protein kinase A pathway. Although formation of inositol phosphates (IP) has been reported after stimulation of rodent gonadotropin receptors, activation of phospholipase C after ligand binding of human LH or FSH receptors has not been investigated. Human gonadotropin receptors were transiently expressed in 293 cells, and the agonist-induced stimulation of IP formation was measured. The LH receptor responded to a saturating dose of human CG (hCG) with a 5.2-fold increase of IPs whereas the FSH receptor responded to a saturating dose of FSH with only a 50% increase. On the basis of these differences and in view of the homologous nature of the two gonadotropin receptors, chimeric receptors were constructed using domain transfer to identify the regions in the human LH receptor important for phosphatidylinositol hydrolysis. Chimeric receptors containing the entire extracellular region of the FSH receptor and the seven transmembrane region plus the cytoplasmic tail of the LH receptor responded to FSH treatment with a 4.7-fold increase in IP accumulation. In contrast, the chimeric receptor with the extracellular region of the LH receptor and the TM region plus the cytoplasmic tail of the FSH receptor responded minimally (50%) to hCG treatment. When the C-terminal third (from TM V to the cytoplasmic tail) of the FSH receptor was replaced with the LH receptor sequence, the chimeric receptor still responded to FSH treatment with a large (6.2-fold) increase in IP release, similar to that of the wild type LH receptor (to hCG), suggesting that C-terminal third of the human LH receptor confers IP signaling ability. This functional domain was further divided into two areas, namely TM V to TM VI and TM VII to the cytoplasmic tail. The chimeric receptors F(I-IV)L(V-VI)F(VII-C)R and F(I-VI)L-VII-C)R, in which these two regions of the FSH receptor were replaced by the corresponding sequences of the LH receptor, responded to FSH treatment with partial increases in phosphatidylinositol hydrolysis (2.0- and 3.7-fold, respectively). Furthermore, when TM VII and the cytoplasmic tail of the LH receptor were replaced with the corresponding sequence of the FSH receptor, this chimeric receptor showed a diminished (2.0-fold) response to hCG in IP release. For all the chimeric receptor constructs analyzed, overall expression, equilibrium binding constants, and adenyl cyclase activation were not altered. Thus, unlike studies using chimeric muscarinic and dopaminergic receptors in which the second and third intracellular loops were found to be important for IP signaling, the entire C-terminal third of the human LH receptor is important for IP release. Future analysis using the chimeric receptor approach should provide new information on the structure-function relationship of gonadotropin, TSH, and other seven transmembrane-spanning receptors.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VF48200008

    View details for PubMedID 8885247

  • Hormonal regulation of apoptosis in early antral follicles: Follicle-stimulating hormone as a major survival factor ENDOCRINOLOGY Chun, S. Y., EISENHAUER, K. M., Minami, S., Billig, H., Perlas, E., Hsueh, A. J. 1996; 137 (4): 1447-1456


    Hormonal regulation of apoptosis has been studied in cultured preovulatory follicles. Because early antral follicles are most vulnerable to undergo atretic degeneration under physiological conditions in vivo, the present studies were designed to investigate the hormonal regulation of apoptosis using in vitro culture of early antral follicles. Rats were implanted with diethylstilbestrol at 24 days of age to stimulate the development of early antral follicles, and ovaries were collected at day 27 of age. Early antral follicles were dissected and cultured (four per vial) for 24 h with or without hormonal treatments. After culture, DNA was extracted from follicles, and the degree of apoptotic DNA fragmentation was determined using 3'-end labeling and gel electrophoresis. In situ analysis of apoptotic DNA fragmentation revealed that granulosa cells in these follicles are the main cell type undergoing apoptosis. Follicles cultured in the absence of hormones showed a 12-fold increase in the level of apoptotic DNA fragmentation which was prevented by treatment with FSH in a dose-dependent manner (60% maximal suppression and apparent ED50 of 30 ng/ml). Similarly, treatment with (Bu)2cAMP also suppressed follicle apoptosis. Treatment with LH or human CG, however, minimally suppressed apoptotic DNA fragmentation (35% maximal suppression). Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) also suppressed apoptosis by 45%. Moreover, the suppressive effect of FSH on apoptosis was partially reversed by coincubation with IGF-binding protein-3, suggesting a potential mediatory role of endogenous IGF-I. However, recombinant bovine GH had no effect on follicle apoptosis despite its ability to stimulate IGF-I messenger RNA (mRNA) levels. Incubation of follicles with epidermal growth factor (EGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor maximally suppressed follicle apoptosis by only 32% and 42%, respectively. Ligand binding analysis indicated the minimal effectiveness of EGF on apoptosis in early antral follicles, as compared with its potent action in preovulatory follicles reported earlier, may be due to a 3.5 fold increase in EGF receptor concentration in the mature follicles. High doses (150 or 500 ng/ml) of interleukin-1beta also suppressed apoptosis by 48% whereas treatment with an NO generator, sodium nitroprusside, or a cyclic GMP analog suppressed apoptosis as effectively as that of FSH. Furthermore, treatment with activin resulted in a dose-related suppression of follicle apoptosis, reaching a maximal 40% suppression. In contrast, cotreatment of activin with its binding protein, follistatin, abolished this effect. Collectively, these data demonstrated a stage-dependent difference in the hormonal regulation of follicle apoptosis. Although FSH, LH/human CG, GH, IGF-I, EGF, basic fibroblast growth factor, and interleukin-1beta are all effective survival factors for preovulatory follicles, FSH is a major survival factor for early antral follicles, the stage during which a majority of follicle undergo atresia under physiological conditions.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996UB89100042

    View details for PubMedID 8625923

  • Gonadal cell apoptosis 1995 Conference on Recent Progress in Hormone Research Hsueh, A. J., Eisenhauer, K., Chun, S. Y., Hsu, S. Y., Billig, H. ENDOCRINE SOC. 1996: 433–456


    Apoptosis is an important cellular process by which superfluous or unwanted cells are deleted from an organism during tissue remodeling and differentiation. Recent studies have demonstrated the role of this programmed cell death or "controlled cell suicide" in the physiological function of an organism. Suppression of apoptosis increases the susceptibility of an individual to malignancy whereas uncontrolled cell death is associated with degenerative diseases. Normal development of both female and male gonads is characterized by massive cell death. More than 99% of ovarian follicles endowed at early life are destined to undergo apoptosis and the exhaustion of these follicles serves as a "clock" for female reproductive senescence. In the testis, up to 75% of male germ cells also undergo apoptosis, perhaps as a mechanism to delete superfluous or defective germ cells. Gonadal cell apoptosis provides valuable models to study hormonal regulation of apoptosis. In the ovary, gonadotropins, estrogens, growth hormone, growth factors (IGFI, EGF/TGF-alpha, basic FGF), cytokine (interleukin-1 beta) and nitric oxide act in concert to ensure the survival of preovulatory follicles. In contrast, androgens, interleukin-6 and gonadal GnRH-like peptide are apoptotic factors. Developmental studies further indicate that fractions of endowed follicles are recruited throughout the reproductive life whereas most of the primordial follicles are "arrested" at the initial stage of development for a prolonged time. Because a transcriptional factor WT1 is expressed in high levels in follicles at early stages of development and because WT1 over-expression represses the promoter activity of inhibin-alpha gene, this nuclear protein may be important in the maintenance of follicles at early stages of development. Once a cohort of follicles is recruited to grow, it is destined to undergo apoptosis unless rescued by survival factors. After puberty onset and under gonadotropin stimulation, some of the growing antral follicles are "selected" to continue their final maturation and secrete high levels of estrogens to trigger ovulation. Following repeated cycles of recruitment, atresia or ovulation, the follicle reserve is exhausted, thus signaling the onset of reproductive senescence. Although the somatic granulosa cell is the major cell type undergoing apoptosis in the ovary, the germ cells in the testis also exhibit signs of apoptotic cell demise. In the testis, gonadotropins and androgens act as survival factors whereas exposure to elevated temperature in cryptorchid testes increases apoptosis. In the seasonally breeding hamster model, photoperiod-entrained regression and recrudescence of testis tissue serves as a unique natural model of apoptosis. With recent advances in our understanding of the cellular mechanism of apoptosis, including the elucidation of the Ced9/bc12 and Ced3/ICE family of proteins, further investigation of gonadal apoptosis may lead to a better understanding of gonadal degenerative disorders (such as premature ovarian failure and oligospermia), reproductive senescence and tumorigenesis. The gonadal model should also be valuable in studying the regulation of intracellular apoptosis genes by external hormonal signals.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996BJ31P00017

    View details for PubMedID 8701090

  • Synthesis of genetically fused single chain analog of human chorionic gonadotropin: Implications for drug design and structure-function relationships Symposiun on the Ovary - Regulation, Dysfunction and Treatment Boime, I., Sugahara, T., Pixley, M. R., Perlas, E., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER SCIENCE PUBL B V. 1996: 43–50
  • Mechanisms of atresia: The hormonal control of apoptosis Symposiun on the Ovary - Regulation, Dysfunction and Treatment EISENHAUER, K. M., Chun, S. Y., Minami, S., Billig, H., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER SCIENCE PUBL B V. 1996: 103–112


    The inhibin-alpha gene is expressed in a tissue-specific manner, and its protein product dimerizes with one of two beta-subunits to form bioactive heterodimers. To characterize the cis-acting elements involved in directing gonad- and adrenal-specific expression of inhibin-alpha, transgenic mice were generated that carried 2.5 or 6 kilobases (kb) of the 5'-flanking region of the mouse inhibin-alpha gene driving the human bcl-2 complementary DNA. Using an antibody specific for human Bcl-2, Western blotting and immunocytochemical analyses showed that both enhancer/promoter fragments direct transgene expression to the ovary, testis, and adrenal gland. The 6-kb fragment targeted the ovarian transgene expression in interstitial cells and young corpora lutea as well as granulosa and thecal cells of secondary, antral, and preovulatory follicles. In ovaries of animals with the 2.5-kb fragment, transgene expression was also detected in interstitial cells and young corpora lutea, but only in granulosa and thecal cells from antral and preovulatory follicles. The ovarian transgene expression in animals carrying the 6-kb inhibin-alpha promoter/bcl-2 construct was stimulated by gonadotropin treatment, with greater than 10-fold increases observed 2 days after PMSG stimulation. In the testes of both types of transgenic animals, immunoreactive Bcl-2 was predominantly detected in Sertoli cells of seminiferous tubules. Sporadic expression was also observed in some interstitial cells. In the adrenal gland, reporter protein was detected in the zona fasciculata of both types of transgenic animals during adult life; however, transgene expression was detected in zona fasciculata of young (21-day-old) animals with the 6-kb, but not the 2.5-kb, promoter construct. Thus, the 2.5-kb inhibin-alpha 5'-proximal DNA sequence directs transgene expression in mature ovarian follicles and testicular Sertoli cells. In contrast, enhancer elements in the 6-kb fragment are required for expression in preantral follicles and in the adrenal of immature animals. The inhibin-alpha promoter/enhancer used here represents unique DNA sequences for ovarian-specific transgene expression and is useful for future analysis of gonadal and adrenal cell functions.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995TH00800045

    View details for PubMedID 7588311



    WT1, a gene deleted in some Wilms' tumors, encodes a transcription factor with zinc fingers and shares homology with proteins in the early growth response gene family. Although defects in the WT1 gene are associated with nephroblastoma and genitourinary malformation, the specific function of WT1 in the gonads remains unclear. We investigated the expression of WT1 transcripts in rat ovary during follicle development by Northern blotting, RNase protection assay, and in situ hybridization. Abundant WT1 transcripts were found in the ovary, testis, uterus, and kidney, with lower levels in the heart and pancreas. Treatment with estrogen or gonadotropins did not affect the concentration of ovarian WT1 mRNA. In situ hybridization analysis indicated that ovarian WT1 mRNA is expressed exclusively in the surface epithelium and granulosa cells of primordial, primary, and secondary follicles, and its levels decrease during follicle growth. Although RNase protection assay suggested the presence of four alternatively spliced forms of WT1 mRNA, the ratio of these transcripts remains constant during ovarian growth. Developmental changes in the expression of two granulosa cell differentiation marker genes, inhibin-alpha and FSH receptor, were found to be inversely correlated with WT1 levels. Because potential WT1-binding sites were found in the promoter of inhibin-alpha gene, we further tested whether WT1 might regulate the expression of this gene. Cotransfection of a WT1 expression vector with a promoter reporter plasmid of inhibin-alpha resulted in the repression of promoter activities in CHO cells in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that WT1 is expressed in high levels in granulosa cells of primordial, primary, and secondary follicles but decreases with follicle development. This transcription factor might be a repressor of ovarian differentiation genes in the granulosa cells and play a role in arresting the differentiation of immature follicles.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RY96100010

    View details for PubMedID 8544844



    The present world population of 5.6 billion is projected to reach 9 billion by the year 2025. Overpopulation remains one of the overwhelming issues of the 21st century, but only limited effort and resources have been allocated to designing new contraceptives, as evidenced by the diminished interest of the pharmaceutical industry and funding agencies. Major advances have been made recently in our understanding of the genetic basis of an individual's risk to various reproductive cancers and sex steroid-related diseases. It has also become apparent that agonistic and antagonistic analogues of sex steroids with tissue-specific actions can be formulated. These new insights provide the opportunity to develop the next generation of 'designer' contraceptive pills with disease-prevention benefits.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RU03700014

    View details for PubMedID 8567829



    A growing body of evidence suggests that intraovarian interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) may play an intermediary role in the ovulatory process. Furthermore, induction of nitric oxide (NO) by IL-1 beta has been reported in a wide variety of tissues. As the majority of ovarian follicles undergo an atretic degeneration process involving apoptotic cell death, we set out to determine whether IL-1 beta rescues follicles from apoptosis and the possible involvement of NO. Preovulatory follicles obtained from PMSG-primed rats were cultured for 24 h in serum-free medium with or without hormone treatments. After culture, follicular apoptotic DNA fragmentation was analyzed by autoradiography of size-fractionated DNA labeled at 3'-ends with [32P]dideoxy-ATP. Follicular NO production was also determined by a colorimetric method. Treatment with IL-1 beta dose-dependently suppressed the spontaneous onset of apoptosis in cultured follicles, but stimulated NO production. In contrast, the addition of IL-1 receptor antagonist eliminated both effects of IL-1 beta, confirming receptor mediation. Follicles treated with sodium nitroprusside, a NO generator or an analog of cGMP, the second messenger for NO, also showed decreased follicle apoptosis. Moreover, the addition of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, a NO synthase inhibitor, reversed both IL-1 beta stimulation of NO production and suppression of apoptosis, suggesting a mediatory role of NO in these IL-1 beta effects. Gonadotropins also prevent follicle apoptosis. Of interest, treatment with hCG stimulated NO production, and the hCG suppression of follicle apoptosis and stimulation of NO production were partially blocked by cotreatment with IL-1 receptor antagonist, indicating the mediation of endogenous IL-1 beta. Treatment with IL-1 beta also stimulated a small increase in the production of cAMP, estrogen, and progesterone. Taken together, these findings suggest that IL-1 beta is a survival factor for ovarian follicles, and its action is partially mediated via NO and cGMP generation. Moreover, part of the suppressive action of gonadotropins on follicle apoptosis is mediated by endogenously produced IL-1 beta.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RE89700044

    View details for PubMedID 7540548



    A growing body of evidence suggests that growth hormone (GH) plays a role in regulating ovarian function by augmenting gonadotropin stimulation of granulosa cell differentiation and folliculogenesis. The majority of follicles in the mammalian ovary do not ovulate, but instead undergo a degenerative process (atresia) involving apoptotic cell death. The objective of the present study was to investigate the role of GH in regulating follicle apoptosis and to determine whether or not insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) mediates GH action in this process. Preovulatory follicles obtained from eCG-primed rats were cultured for 24 h in serum-free conditions with or without hormone treatments. After culture, follicular apoptotic DNA fragmentation was analyzed by autoradiography of size-fractionated DNA labeled at 3' ends with [32P]dideoxy-ATP. Culture of preovulatory follicles resulted in a spontaneous onset of apoptotic DNA fragmentation that was suppressed by ovine GH (oGH) in a dose-dependent manner, reaching a maximum of 65% suppression. To rule out the effect of residual gonadotropin in the oGH preparation, follicles were also cultured with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH). Like oGH, rbGH suppressed apoptotic DNA fragmentation. Our earlier study indicated that hCG and FSH treatment also suppress apoptosis in the present model system, but no additive effect of GH and either hCG or FSH on the suppression of apoptosis was observed. To determine whether the observed effect of GH action on follicle apoptosis is mediated by IGF-I, three types of studies were carried out.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RC85000003

    View details for PubMedID 7545438



    Disturbed human reproductive function may be caused by environmental and/or genetic factors. Much information related to single gene defects underlying reproductive failure has become available in recent years due to advances in molecular biology. In this review, techniques currently applied for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis are addressed. We also highlight underlying molecular mechanisms and the corresponding clinical presentation of single gene defects affecting (i) the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, resulting in disturbed gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neuron migration, or leading to defective gonadotrophins, gonadotrophin receptors and the Gs alpha protein; (ii) gonadal and adrenal steroid biosynthesis and (iii) steroid and insulin receptors. The potential genetic basis of polycystic ovary syndrome is also discussed. Although disease states caused by well-defined genetic abnormalities appear to represent only a small proportion of those found in the patient population, it should be considered that these affected individuals represent only the most severe cases in a wide spectrum of genetic abnormalities underlying disturbed fertility. Comprehension of these extreme cases will provide the basis for the elucidation of more common reproductive disorders as the result of subtle genetic changes or increased susceptibility to environmental factors.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995QX12200019

    View details for PubMedID 7650129



    Recent studies have demonstrated apoptotic DNA fragmentation in the testis of immature rats deprived of gonadotropins. However, the exact cell type undergoing apoptosis during testis development and the age differences of gonadotropin dependence of testis cell apoptosis are unclear. The present study used gel fractionation and in situ methods to quantitate developmental changes of testis cell DNA fragmentation and to localize the specific cell type affected in developing rats with and without treatment with a GnRH antagonist. Apoptotic DNA fragmentation in whole testis was measured in rats between 8-70 days of age. A gradual increase (1.8- to 2.0-fold) in testis apoptotic DNA fragmentation was seen in rats between 16-28 days of age, compared with 8-day-old animals, followed by a decrease in adult animals. To study gonadotropin dependence of testicular apoptosis, serum FSH and, to a lesser extent, LH were suppressed by treatment with a long-acting GnRH antagonist (azaline-B, 250 micrograms/kg body wt, two injections at 2-day intervals). Pretreatment with the GnRH antagonist increased apoptotic DNA fragmentation in rats between 16-32 days of age but not in younger and adult animals demonstrating an age-related change in gonadotropin dependence. To identify the exact testis cell type undergoing apoptosis, in situ analysis of DNA fragmentation was performed. In rats at 16-24 days of age, spermatocytes in selected tubules were found to have increased DNA fragmentation. In contrast, neither Leydig cells nor Sertoli cells were affected. In 32-day-old and adult animals, increased DNA fragmentation was seen in early primary spermatocytes of some tubules. Treatment with GnRH antagonist increased the number of cells with DNA fragmentation as well as percentage of tubules affected. In animals between 16-32 days of age, meiotic spermatocytes were labeled, whereas early spermatids were also labeled in 24- and 32-day-old animals. In adult animals, the level of apoptotic DNA fragmentation was not affected by GnRH antagonist treatment. However, DNA isolated from specific stages of the seminiferous tubules of adult animals showed stage-specific changes of apoptotic DNA fragmentation with 2-fold higher levels found in stages I and XII-XIV compared with stage VIII. In situ analysis of adult testis demonstrated that spermatocytes were the major cell type affected. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that at least three factors determine the onset of apoptosis of the male germ cells: 1) the developmental stage of the animal; 2) serum levels of gonadotropins, especially FSH; and 3) specific stage of the seminiferous epithelial cycle. The present approach provides the basis for future analysis of the role of gonadotropins and other factors in the regulation of testis cell degeneration in normal and pathological states.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995QD58400002

    View details for PubMedID 7828558



    The hCG beta-subunit contains a carboxy-terminal extension bearing four serine-linked oligosaccharides [carboxy-terminal peptide (CTP)], which is important for maintaining its longer half-life compared with the other glycoprotein hormones. Previously, we enhanced the in vivo half-life of FSH by fusing the CTP to the carboxy end of FSH beta coding sequence. The alpha-subunit is common to the glycoprotein family. We constructed alpha-subunit CTP chimeras, since such analogs with the appropriate O-linked glycosylation and conformation would increase the in vivo stability of the entire glycoprotein hormone family. Two chimeras were constructed using overlapping polymerase chain reaction mutagenesis: a variant with CTP at the carboxy end and another analog with the CTP at the N-terminal region of the subunit, between amino acids 3 and 4. The latter design was based on models showing that the amino-terminal region of alpha is not involved in assembly with the beta-subunit, nor is it essential for receptor binding and signal transduction. These chimeras were cotransfected with the hCG beta gene into Chinese hamster ovary cells. The chimeras were secreted and combined efficiently with the CG beta-subunit, comparable to the wild type alpha-subunit. CG dimers containing the alpha-subunit chimera with CTP at the carboxy end of the subunit had a much lower binding affinity for the hLH-hCG receptor in vitro, whereas the binding of the dimer containing the CTP at the amino-terminal end of the subunit was similar to wild type hCG. Furthermore, the in vivo activity of this analog was enhanced significantly. Moreover, regardless of the two insertion points in the alpha-subunit, the CTP sequence was O-glycosylated. These data suggest that the entire signal for O-glycosylation is primarily contained within the CTP sequence and is not dependent on the flanking regions of the recipient protein. The transfer of CTP to the alpha-subunit of hCG results in an agonist with prolonged biological action in vivo. These data further support the rationale for using the CTP as a general target to increase the potency of bioactive glycoproteins.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995QF72500006

    View details for PubMedID 7539107


    View details for Web of Science ID A1994QA03100001

    View details for PubMedID 7705278



    Reproductive activity in the Djungarian hamster is controlled by seasonal variations in day length. Exposure to long days stimulates testis development, while exposure to short days induces testis regression. We recently found that testis regression after gonadotropin deprivation in rats is associated with increases in apoptosis. Here we sought to determine whether or not apoptosis is associated with the testis regression and/or recrudescence that occurs naturally in seasonally breeding mammals. Newborn male hamsters were maintained on long days (16L:8D) until 3 wk of age before being transferred to short days (8L:16D). Following decreases in serum FSH within 3 days of exposure to short days, testis weight decreased by 52% at Day 10, reaching a 70% decrease after 21 days. Analysis of testis cell DNA fragmentation showed a 4.9-fold increase of low-molecular-weight DNA as early as 5 days after transfer to short days; this was followed by a time-dependent decrease. The observed increases in testis cell apoptosis were correlated with decreases in serum testosterone, but decreases in Leydig cell LH receptor content were delayed. In a second study, 6-wk-old hamsters with regressed testes due to a 3-wk exposure to short days were transferred back to long days. After increases in serum FSH within 3 days of photostimulation, a 2-fold elevation in testis weight was found at Day 5. The increase in testis weight was associated with a 65% decrease of testis apoptosis within 5 days of photostimulation. Also, increases in serum testosterone and LH receptor content were observed after 5 and 10 days of exposure to long days, respectively.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PR43000031

    View details for PubMedID 7888511



    Although the majority of ovarian follicles undergo atresia through a mechanism involving apoptotic cell death, in vivo studies concerning the hormonal regulation of atresia have been difficult due to the presence of heterogeneous population of follicles in the ovary. In the present study, the regulation of follicle apoptosis by gonadotropins, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), and IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) was examined using a serum-free culture of preovulatory follicles. Immature rats at 26 days of age received a single dose of PMSG. Two days later, the largest preovulatory follicles were collected for in vitro culture with or without hormones. After 24 h of culture, follicular apoptotic DNA fragmentation was analyzed by autoradiography of size-fractionated DNA labeled at 3'-ends by [32P]dideoxy-ATP. A spontaneous increase in apoptotic DNA fragmentation occurred after 24 h of culture in the absence of hormones, whereas treatment with human CG (hCG) or FSH suppressed follicular apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner, with 0.1 microgram/ml causing maximal suppression by 60-62%. Cotreatment with hCG and FSH had no additional effect. Like gonadotropins, treatment with IGF-I and insulin also suppressed the spontaneous onset of apoptosis, with IGF-I being more effective than insulin. Cotreatment with IGFBP-3 and hCG dose-dependently reversed the suppressive effect of hCG on apoptosis by 42%, suggesting a mediatory role of endogenously produced IGF-I. The addition of IGFBP-3 also blocked the suppressive action of IGF-I by 49%, whereas it did not affect the suppressive action of an IGF-I agonist or insulin. Treatment with IGFBP-3 alone had no effect on apoptotic DNA fragmentation. Estrogen and progesterone production by the cultured follicles were also analyzed by RIA. Gonadotropin treatment resulted in a marked stimulation of the production of both steroid productions. In contrast, treatment with IGF-I caused a small increase in estrogen but decreased progesterone production. Although treatment with IGFBP-3 alone decreased both estrogen and progesterone production, cotreatment with IGFBP-3 and hCG resulted in a slight decrease in estrogen production but an increase in progesterone production. Furthermore, IGFBP-3 did not affect IGF-I action on steroid production. To further substantiate the hypothesis that IGFBP-3 blocks the suppressive effect of hCG on apoptosis by neutralizing endogenously produced IGF-I, solution hybridization analysis was performed, and hCG treatment was shown to increase IGF-I messenger RNA levels in cultured follicles by 1.9-fold.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PR66700018

    View details for PubMedID 7525255



    Although surgical induction of cryptorchidism in the rat is known to cause infertility due to disruption of spermatogenesis, the exact cellular mechanism responsible for the degenerative changes in cryptorchid testes is unclear. Using a sensitive autoradiographic method for the detection of apoptotic DNA fragmentation, we have investigated the effect of experimentally induced cryptorchidism on apoptotic cell death in testes of immature rats. Bilateral or unilateral cryptorchidism decreased the weight of affected testes within 4 days; these decreases (24-27%) became significant (P < 0.05) at 7 days after the operation. Testes of sham-operated animals contained predominantly high molecular weight DNA (> 15 kb), whereas DNA cleavage into low molecular weight ladders characteristic of apoptosis was increased by induction of bilateral cryptorchidism in a time-dependent manner, i.e., 2.0-, 2.8-, and 4.2-fold (p < 0.05) at 2, 4, and 7 days after operation, respectively. In unilaterally cryptorchid animals, sham-operated testes also contained predominantly high molecular weight DNA, whereas induction of cryptorchidism of the contralateral testes increased DNA cleavage into low molecular weight fragments 3.0-, 2.8-, and 3.9-fold (p < 0.05) at 2, 4, and 7 days after the operation, respectively. In situ analysis of DNA fragmentation in testes of unilaterally cryptorchid rats at 7 days after the operation indicated that germ cells, mainly primary spermatocytes were affected and that the percentage of seminiferous tubules containing labeled cells increased in the operated testis as compared to the contralateral control in the same animal.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PL95500006

    View details for PubMedID 7849188



    Inhibin-alpha-deficient mutant mice have been generated by a targeted deletion of the inhibin-alpha gene through homologous recombination in murine embryonic stem cells. Essentially all of the homozygous mutants develop gonadal sex cord-stromal tumors. To investigate their endocrine and proliferative characteristics, gonadal tumor cells were maintained in vitro. Cells from inhibin-alpha-deficient mice multiplied poorly; however, cells from mice deficient in both inhibin-alpha and p53 proliferated rapidly and showed higher saturation density and plating efficiency, thus allowing the establishment of clonal tumor cell lines. Although negligible estrogen and testosterone was produced by the clonal cells, high levels of progesterone were secreted. A clonal testis tumor cell line (inhibin-alpha/p53 deficient) showed no response to exogenous FSH, human CG (hCG), or inhibin A but exhibited a 6- to 8-fold increase in progesterone production in response to forskolin treatment. The stimulatory effect of forskolin was, however, partially blocked by activin treatment. Northern blot analysis revealed inhibin beta A and beta B mRNA expression in these cells. Furthermore, Western blot analyses indicated the secretion of the beta A-subunit protein. We further tested the role of activin on tumor cell growth. Treatment with follistatin, an activin-binding protein, inhibited tumor cell replication in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, treatment with activin A stimulated tumor cell growth by itself and partially blocked follistatin action. Incorporation of thymidine into DNA of these cells was also stimulated by activin. In addition, treatment with antiactivin A serum inhibited tumor cell replication and blocked the stimulatory action of activin on cell growth. The activin action is likely mediated by specific receptors because cross-linking of [125]activin to the 50-55 kilodalton type I and 75-80 kilodalton type II receptors was found using sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis. Northern blot analysis also revealed follistatin mRNA expression in the tumor cells, suggesting these cells are related to granulosa cells. Our findings indicate that activin can act as an autocrine growth factor in stimulating the proliferation of gonadal tumor cell lines derived from inhibin-alpha and p53-deficient mice and inhibits progesterone production. These tumor cell lines are useful for studies on the regulation of gonadal cell proliferation and steroidogenesis as well as the signaling pathway mediating activin action.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PB57600004

    View details for PubMedID 7997239



    Pituitary gonadotropin FSH acts exclusively on ovarian granulosa cells by binding to specific plasma membrane receptors. Transforming growth factors alpha and beta (TGF alpha and TGF beta), produced locally within the ovary, have been shown to regulate diverse follicle functions, although their potential role in the regulation of FSH receptors has not been assessed. Our first objective was to demonstrate developmental changes in the expression of FSH receptor gene and protein; we then analyzed the regulation of FSH receptor expression by TGF beta s and TGF alpha in cultured granulosa cells. Analysis of steady-state FSH receptor mRNA and protein levels in neonatal and prepubertal ovaries revealed the existence of two predominant FSH receptor mRNA transcripts, 7.0 and 2.5 kb in size, showing a dramatic increase between Day 15 and Day 18 of age followed by a plateau up to 27 days of age. A close parallelism in the developmental changes in FSH receptor mRNA levels and FSH receptor content was observed. Cultured granulosa cells obtained from estrogen-treated immature rats exhibited FSH receptor transcripts similar in size to those seen in whole ovaries. Treatment of granulosa cells for 48 h with TGF beta 1 increased the levels of FSH receptor mRNA for both the 7.0- and 2.5-kb transcripts in a dose-dependent manner (ED50, 1.5 ng/ml), with a maximal 4.0 +/- 0.8-fold increase over control levels observed in response to 10 ng/ml TGF beta 1. Also, TGF beta 2 was as potent as TGF beta 1 in increasing FSH receptor mRNA levels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994NB91100027

    View details for PubMedID 8199274



    The majority of ovarian follicles undergo atresia through a mechanism involving apoptotic cell death. Although GnRH and its agonists have been shown to suppress ovarian growth and differentiation in hypophysectomized rats, studies on the induction of follicle atresia by GnRH are contradictory. In the present study, the direct effect of GnRH on the occurrence of apoptosis in the ovary was investigated in hypophysectomized estrogen-treated immature rats. Starting 2 days after operation and estrogen capsule implantation, rats were treated with a GnRH agonist (GnRHa; [desGly10,D-Phe6,Pro9-N-ethylamide] GnRH; 50 micrograms/injection, twice daily). Total ovarian DNA was isolated 48 h later, labeled at the 3'ends with [32P]dideoxy ATP, and size-fractionated. Compared to that in control animals, treatment with GnRHa increased DNA fragmentation in multiples of 180 basepairs, a hallmark of apoptosis, demonstrating that GnRH directly increases ovarian apoptotic cell demise. In contrast, FSH treatment (10 micrograms/injection, twice daily) decreased apoptotic DNA fragmentation, and the antiapoptotic effect of FSH was partially blocked by concomitant treatment with GnRHa. The apoptosis-inducing effect of GnRHa was time and dose dependent, with a significant increase seen after 24 h of treatment and a maximal 5.5-fold increase with 10 micrograms GnRHa/injection. Similar to studies using DNA isolated from whole ovaries, DNA obtained from isolated granulosa cells also showed a time- and dose-dependent increase in DNA fragmentation after GnRHa treatment. The effect on DNA fragmentation by GnRHa was mediated by ovarian GnRH receptors, because a potent GnRH receptor blocker, Azaline B, prevented GnRHa action. In addition, in situ end labeling of DNA using digoxigenin-dideoxy-UTP showed that DNA fragmentation was confined to the granulosa cells of preantral and antral follicles. No GnRHa-induced apoptosis was detected in granulosa cells of primary follicles or in thecal and interstitial cells. These data suggest that GnRH directly increases apoptotic cell death in the ovary, and the GnRH action is confined to the granulosa cells. These data provide a basis for future studies on the mechanism of follicular atresia and the regulation of ovarian endonuclease by GnRH.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994MQ62100035

    View details for PubMedID 8275940

  • GONADOTROPIN CONTROL OF FOLLICLE OVULATION, LUTEINIZATION AND ATRESIA VIIIth World Congress on In Vitro Fertilization and Alternate Assisted Reproduction Tapanainen, J. S., Billig, H., Furuta, I., Hsueh, A. J. ARES-SERONO SYMPOSIA PUBLICATIONS. 1994: 439–447
  • STRUCTURE-FUNCTION STUDIES OF GONADOTROPINS USING SITE-DIRECTED MUTAGENESIS AND GENE-TRANSFER - DESIGN OF A LONG-ACTING GONADOTROPIN AGONIST Symposium on Ovulation Induction: Basic Science and Clinical Advances Boime, I., Fares, F., Furuhashi, M., LAPOLT, P. D., Nishimori, K., Shikone, T., Sugahara, T., Hsueh, A. J. ELSEVIER SCIENCE PUBL B V. 1994: 177–184


    Ovulation and subsequent luteal tissue formation are preceded by midcycle surges of both LH and FSH. Although LH has been widely known as the luteinizing hormone, a potential role for FSH in the luteinization process is possible. Our earlier studies using recombinant FSH (rcFSH) without LH contamination have shown that treatment with a surge dose of rcFSH induces ovulation of mature follicles in hypophysectomized rats. The present studies examined further whether FSH alone is sufficient to induce normal corpus luteum formation. Immature hypophysectomized rats were implanted with an estrogen pellet (10 mg diethylstilbestrol). Two days later, a minipump releasing 4 IU rcFSH/day was placed to induce follicular growth. Forty-eight hours after FSH treatment, both DES pellet and FSH minipump were removed, and rats were injected with a single sc dose of 40 IU rcFSH, 5 micrograms hCG, or saline. For some animals, oviducts were excised the following day to determine the number of ovulated oocytes. The remaining animals received, 2 days later, sc injections of 125 micrograms ovine PRL twice daily for 3 days to maintain luteal function. All rats that received a surge dose of rcFSH or hCG ovulated similar numbers of oocytes, whereas none of the control animals did. Ovaries and blood samples were obtained 5 days after the gonadotropin surge. rcFSH and hCG significantly increased ovarian weight to 73.9 +/- 4.8 and 94.7 +/- 5.6 mg, respectively, compared to 10.0 +/- 0.5 mg in controls. Serum progesterone levels were increased by 192- and 102-fold in rcFSH- and hCG-treated animals, respectively, compared with those in the saline-treated rats. rcFSH and hCG also induced a marked elevation of ovarian [125I]hCG binding (4.2 +/- 0.2 and 3.7 +/- 0.1 ng/mg ovary, respectively), whereas ovaries from control animals exhibited low binding (0.6 +/- 0.1 ng/mg ovary). These gonadotropin-induced increases in [125I]hCG binding were associated with similar elevations in the levels of three LH receptor transcripts of 2.5, 4.2, and 7.0 kilobases. Also, levels of the ovarian cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (CYP 11A) mRNA (2 kilobases) were low in control animals, but increased 20.5- and 14.3-fold after surge doses of rcFSH and hCG, respectively. Accompanied by biochemical signs of luteinization, morphological features typical of luteinized ovaries were found in both rcFSH and hCG groups, showing the formation of large polyhedral lutein cells and small spindle-shaped lutein cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993MK15100068

    View details for PubMedID 8243314



    Because of the microheterogeneities of gonadotropins, measurement of immunoreactivity of these glycoproteins does not necessarily reflect changes in their bioactivity. In addition, LH bioactivities in human samples analyzed by a rodent LH bioassay have been discordant with findings based on human granulosa-luteal cells. We have isolated a human LH/choriogonadotropin (CG) receptor cDNA and expressed the recombinant protein. Using 293 cells permanently transfected with the human LH receptor cDNA and a luciferase reporter gene driven by a cAMP-dependent promoter, we have developed a luminescence LH/CG bioassay. After cells were treated with human LH or CG for 20 h, luciferase activity was measured through use of a luminometer. Luciferase activity in the cells was increased in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, treatment with FSH, thyroid-stimulating hormone, prolactin, growth hormone, adrenocorticotropin, insulin, prostaglandins, and several neurotransmitters had no effect. Because treatment with basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) caused significant increases in basal luciferase activity, a fixed amount of bFGF was included in all reactions. Incubation with 0.1 to 30 microliters serum from women during different physiological states stimulated the luciferase activity in parallel with the hCG standard curve. In 4 conception cycles, bioactive LH/hCG levels began to increase 2 wk after the midcycle LH surge, followed by a logarithmic increase from 22 days on. Due to the lack of a homologous RIA for measuring CG levels in monkeys, we analyzed serum bioactive monkey CG (mCG) in macaque during early pregnancy. Bioactive mCG was detected about 12 days after the midcycle LH surge and fertile mating and persisted until Days 21-23, followed by a decline.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993MH46900020

    View details for PubMedID 8286613



    Apoptotic cell death has recently been suggested to be the underlying mechanism of ovarian follicle atresia. To study the regulation of follicle cell apoptosis by sex steroids, we have analyzed ovarian DNA fragmentation, the hallmark of apoptosis, in rats treated with estrogens and androgens. Immature rats were hypophysectomized and implanted with diethylstilbestrol (DES) capsules. Two days later, DES implants were removed in some animals, followed by treatment with estrogens with or without androgens. The extent of ovarian apoptotic DNA fragmentation was analyzed by autoradiography of size-fractionated DNA labeled at 3'-ends by [32P]dideoxy-ATP. After DES withdrawal, ovarian weight decreased and DNA fragmentation increased in a time-dependent manner. In granulosa cells, an increase in apoptotic DNA fragmentation was seen 12 h after withdrawal of DES implants, followed by a 25-fold increase at 48 h. In situ analysis of DNA fragmentation on histological sections of ovaries, using a nonisotopic labeling of DNA by digoxigenin-dideoxy-UTP, also demonstrated that apoptosis induced by DES withdrawal is confined to the granulosa cells in early antral and preantral follicles. No increase in DNA breakdown was detected in thecal cells and interstitial tissues or granulosa cells of primordial and primary follicles. In contrast, replacement with DES (0.5 mg twice daily) or estradiol benzoate (3 mg daily) completely prevented the observed ovarian weight loss and increases in granulosa cell apoptosis. Treatment with estradiol benzoate (0.003-3 mg/day) dose dependently suppressed the apoptosis seen 2 days after removal of DES implants. Furthermore, the antiatretogenic effect of estrogen was blocked by treatment with testosterone (0.5 mg twice daily), which increased ovarian apoptotic DNA fragmentation and decreased ovarian weight in DES-treated animals in a time-dependent manner. Also, in situ examination showed that androgen treatment increased apoptosis in the granulosa cells in a subpopulation of early antral and preantral follicles. The specificity of testosterone action was further demonstrated by the lack of effect of progesterone and cortisol on ovarian apoptosis. These data suggest that sex steroids play an important role in the regulation of ovarian apoptotic cell death, with estrogens preventing apoptosis and androgens antagonizing the effect of estrogens. These data provide the basis for future studies on the role of sex steroid hormones in follicular atresia and the regulation of endonuclease activity by steroid hormones.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993ME08000038

    View details for PubMedID 8404672



    Although the requirement for pituitary gonadotropins during testicular cell differentiation is well documented, the possible role of FSH and LH in regulating testicular cell survival has not been studied. Using a quantitative autoradiographic method for the detection of internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, a hallmark feature of apoptosis, the hormonal control of apoptotic cell death was studied in testicular cells collected from immature rats after hypophysectomy. After surgery, animals were treated with daily injections of 20 IU long-acting FSH agonist (FSH-CTP) or 50 IU human CG (hCG) for 2 days. Hypophysectomy decreased testis weight by 25%, but treatment with FSH-CTP or hCG prevented the effect of hypophysectomy. Testes of intact animals contained predominantly high-mol wt DNA, whereas hypophysectomy increased DNA cleavage into low-mol wt (< 15 kilobases) ladders characteristics of apoptosis. In contrast, treatment with FSH-CTP or hCG inhibited hypophysectomy-induced apoptotic DNA cleavage by 84% and 51%, respectively. Hypophysectomy-induced DNA fragmentation was found in both interstitial cells and seminiferous tubules. Similar to whole testis, treatment with FSH-CTP suppressed hypophysectomy-induced apoptosis by over 90% in seminiferous tubules and interstitial cells. In contrast, hCG treatment was less effective in preventing hypophysectomy-induced DNA cleavage (46% suppression in tubules and 77% suppression in interstitial cells). Furthermore, testosterone replacement also suppressed hypophysectomy-induced DNA fragmentation by 75% in the whole testis tissue, 64% in tubules, and 55% in interstitial cells. To further study the role of gonadotropins, intact animals were treated with a potent GnRH antagonist (Azaline B, 10 microgram/day) to decrease serum gonadotropin levels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993LD85600002

    View details for PubMedID 8316250



    A method combining the advantages of electrophoretic DNA fractionation and autoradiography is described for the qualitative and quantitative analysis of internucleosomal DNA fragmentation that occurs during apoptosis, or "programmed cell death." This procedure utilizes terminal transferase enzyme to uniformly add one molecule of [alpha 32P]-dideoxynucleotide to the 3'-end of DNA fragments. Following gel electrophoresis and autoradiographic analysis, the total amount of radiolabel incorporated into the low molecular weight DNA fraction can be quantitated and used to estimate the degree of apoptotic DNA fragmentation in any given sample. This method requires as little as 15 ng of total cellular DNA and increases the sensitivity of apoptotic DNA detection by at least 100-fold over the widely used ethidium bromide staining method. The procedure should prove valuable for the analysis of apoptosis in minute quantities of tissues and cultured cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993KP60400009

    View details for PubMedID 8436601



    In the rat, the antagonistic properties of deglycosylated (dg) gonadotropins in vitro are characterized by high affinity receptor binding but impaired ability to stimulate cAMP accumulation. In human, the functional role of N-linked sugars in human CG (hCG) action is unclear because of the unavailability of totally deglycosylated hCG and because of the difficulty involved in obtaining human gonadal tissues. We have recently prepared completely deglycosylated hCG using site-directed mutagenesis and expressed functional human LH (hLH) receptors using cloned complementary DNA. Since hLH receptor shows distinct ligand specificity from that of rat LH receptor, we examined binding kinetics and signal transduction of recombinant dg-hCG using recombinant hLH receptors. In embryonic human kidney cells (293) transfected with hLH receptor complementary DNA, 125I-hCG binding to its receptor was studied in the presence of varying amounts of unlabeled dg-hCG or wild type (WT)-hCG. Lineweaver-Burk analysis of the binding kinetics showed that the displacement of 125I-hCG by dg-hCG was noncompetitive whereas that seen for WT-hCG was competitive. The noncompetitive nature of dg-hCG binding was further confirmed using rat LH receptors present in testis membrane preparations. After preincubation of LH receptor-expressing 293 cells with WT-hCG, inclusion of 125I-hCG competitively displaced WT-hCG. In contrast, preincubation with dg-hCG prevented subsequent 125I-hCG binding to human LH receptor for at least 46 h. WT-hCG caused a dose-dependent increase in cAMP accumulation in the 293 cells with an ED50 of 10 ng/ml. However, dg-hCG was ineffective in inducing cAMP production with a maximal effect of only 12% of that stimulated by WT-hCG. In the presence of increasing doses of dg-hCG, stimulation of cAMP by WT-hCG was antagonized in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, forskolin stimulation of cAMP was not antagonized by dg-hCG, indicating receptor-mediation of dg-hCG action. Similar to binding studies, preincubation with dg-hCG also dose-dependently blocked the subsequent stimulatory effect of WT-hCG on cAMP production. Thus, the noncompetitive binding of dg-hCG to hLH receptors and its antagonism of hCG stimulation of cAMP accumulation suggest that dg-hCG is an irreversible receptor blocker with unique antagonistic properties.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993KJ81900042

    View details for PubMedID 8381073

  • STRUCTURE FUNCTION STUDIES OF GONADOTROPINS USING SITE-DIRECTED MUTAGENESIS AND GENE TRANSFER - DESIGN OF A LONG-ACTING FOLLITROPIN AGONIST 3rd Organon Round Table Conference - GnRH, GnRH Analogs, Gonadotropins and Gonadal Peptides Boime, I., Fares, F., LAPOLT, P. A., Nishimori, K., Perlas, E., Hsueh, A. J. PARTHENON PUBLISHING GROUP LTD. 1993: 347–356


    The induction of granulosa cell differentiation and follicle maturation is dependent upon the stimulatory actions of FSH. Our recent studies used recombinant DNA technology to fuse the carboxyl-terminal peptide (CTP) of hCG beta-subunit to the carboxyl-terminus of the FSH beta-subunit. The resulting FSH analog has identical in vitro receptor-binding and biological activities as wild-type FSH (WT-FSH), but an increased circulating half-life. The present studies examined further the ability of FSH with one (FSH-CTP1) or two (FSH-CTP2) appended CTPs to promote granulosa cell differentiation and follicle ovulatory potential. WT-FSH, FSH-CTP1, and FSH-CTP2 were produced from Chinese hamster ovary cells transfected with the common alpha-subunit and respective beta-subunit. Hormone concentrations were quantitated by RIA, and relative levels confirmed by radioligand receptor assay. Both FSH-CTP1 and FSH-CTP2 retained full FSH receptor-binding activity, but did not bind LH receptors. To compare in vivo bioactivity, immature estrogen-primed female rats received ip injections of FSH or the agonists at 0 and 24 h. At 48 h, substantial stimulation (up to 2.5-fold) of ovarian weight was induced by 1.0 and 3.0 IU/day FSH-CTP1 or FSH-CTP2, whereas a higher dose (10 IU/day) of WT-FSH was required for an 1.8-fold stimulation. Although the in vivo potencies of FSH-CTP1 and FSH-CTP2 were similar, FSH-CTPs were about 10-fold more potent than WT-FSH in inducing granulosa cell aromatase activity and LH receptors. We further reduced the frequency of hormone administration. Increasing doses (1-10 IU) of a single ip injection of FSH-CTP1 resulted in dose-dependent increases in granulosa cell aromatase activity and LH receptor content 48 h later. Although a single injection (10 IU) of WT-FSH had no effect, the same total dose of WT-FSH administered as four 2.5-IU injections 12 h apart was effective. To test the ovulatory potential of ovarian follicles, rats received a single injection of FSH-CTP1, followed 52 h later by 5 IU hCG to induce ovulation. Although hCG did not induce ovulation in females receiving a single dose (10 IU) of WT-FSH, 20 +/- 2 and 43 +/- 5 ovulated ova/rat were found in animals primed with 3 and 10 IU FSH-CTP1, respectively. Because twice daily injections of WT-FSH (2.5 IU/injection) also increased the ovulatory potential of the ovary, the enhanced effectiveness of FSH-CTP1 appears to be related to its increased circulating half-life.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992KB06800004

    View details for PubMedID 1446593



    Recent biochemical studies have suggested that apoptotic cell death is the molecular mechanism underlying the degeneration of ovarian follicles during atresia. Using a sensitive autoradiographic method for the detection of DNA fragmentation, we studied apoptosis in ovarian granulosa cells or intact follicles placed in serum-free culture as model systems to elucidate the hormonal regulation of atresia. Immature rats (25 days old) were primed for 2 days with 10 IU equine CG to induce a homogeneous population of mature preovulatory follicles. Granulosa cells isolated from these follicles contained predominantly intact high mol wt DNA. However, a time-dependent, spontaneous onset of internucleosomal DNA fragmentation characteristic of apoptotic cell death occurred in granulosa cells during culture. Treatment of granulosa cells with epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF alpha), or basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) inhibited the spontaneous onset of apoptotic DNA cleavage found during culture by 40-60%. In contrast, insulin-like growth factor I, insulin, TGF beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were ineffective. Likewise, activation of the protein kinase A or C pathways with forskolin or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, respectively, did not prevent the onset of DNA fragmentation, although inclusion of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (genistein) completely blocked the ability of EGF, TGF alpha, and bFGF to suppress apoptosis in granulosa cells. Similar to cultured granulosa cells, a spontaneous onset of apoptosis was also observed to occur in isolated preovulatory follicles during culture. Furthermore, treatment of follicles with EGF or bFGF inhibited the spontaneous initiation of apoptosis, and the suppressive effects of these growth factors were also attenuated by co-treatment with genistein.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992KB01500021

    View details for PubMedID 1480180



    Although atresia of ovarian follicles is of critical importance during preovulatory follicle selection as well as during normal and premature menopause, the mechanisms underlying atresia remain poorly understood. To study molecular events associated with atresia, we evaluated changes in mRNA levels for cytochrome P450 aromatase, FSH receptor, LH receptor, and a structural protein, beta-actin, during atresia in small (3-mm diameter) and large (6-mm diameter) porcine follicles. In addition, internucleosomal fragmentation of DNA characteristic of apoptosis ("programmed cell death") was assessed in individual healthy and atretic follicles using a sensitive autoradiographic method. Follicles were classified as morphologically healthy or atretic based on the absence or presence of follicular haemorrhagia and the degree of follicular clarity. Morphological signs of atresia in individual follicles were correlated with the occurrence of internucleosomal DNA fragmentation in granulosa cells as well as in thecal cells during advanced stages of atresia. The presence of apoptosis in atretic follicles was also associated with significant decreases in follicular fluid estrogen concentrations compared to those in healthy follicles of the same size. The decline in estrogen synthesis in degenerating follicles was further correlated with decreased levels of a predominant 2.6-kilobase aromatase mRNA. Moreover, substantial declines in both FSH receptor and LH receptor mRNAs were found in atretic follicles, consistent with previous reports of their decreased responsiveness to gonadotropins. The observed decreases in mRNAs for aromatase and gonadotropin receptors could not be attributed to a generalized degradation of cellular RNA during atresia, as evidenced by the presence of intact 18S and 28S ribosomal RNA as well as constitutive expression of beta-actin mRNA in atretic follicles. These data indicate that apoptotic cell death is initiated in both granulosa and thecal cells of porcine follicles during atresia. Associated with internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, decreased transcription of specific ovarian genes or destabilization of their transcripts leads to selective decreases in aromatase and gonadotropin receptor mRNAs. The atresia of ovarian follicles provides an interesting model to further study the molecular events associated with DNA fragmentation and selective mRNA down-regulation during apoptosis.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992JT90400016

    View details for PubMedID 1396312



    The ligand specificity and biochemical properties of the human (h) FSH receptor are poorly characterized due to the low abundance of these receptors and the limited availability of human tissues. Using a fragment of rat FSH receptor cDNA, we screened a human testicular cDNA library and obtained a FSH receptor cDNA covering the entire amino acid-coding region. After transfection of a human fetal kidney cell line (293) with the hFSH receptor cDNA, radioligand receptor analysis revealed the presence of high affinity (Kd, 1.7 x 10(-9) M) FSH-binding sites on the plasma membrane. Both recombinant and wild-type hFSH displaced [125I]hFSH binding, with ED50 values of 25 and 70 ng/ml, respectively, whereas hLH, hCG, and hTSH were ineffective. Although human, rat(r), and ovine FSH as well as equine CG competed for rat testicular FSH receptor binding, only hFSH and rFSH interacted effectively with the recombinant hFSH receptor, suggesting that species-specific ligand recognition exists between human and rodent receptors. After incubation of transfected cells with hFSH, but not recombinant hLH or hCG, a dose-dependent increase (ED50, 10 ng/ml) in extracellular cAMP accumulation was observed, indicating a functional coupling of the expressed human receptor with the endogenous adenyl cyclase. In cells cotransfected with the FSH receptor expression plasmid and a luciferase reporter gene driven by the promoter of a cAMP-responsive gene, treatment with hFSH, but not hCG, resulted in a dose-dependent increase in luciferase activity. Northern blot analysis using a cRNA probe derived from the human receptor cDNA indicated the presence of multiple FSH receptor mRNA transcripts (7.0, 4.2, and 2.5 kilobases) in RNA prepared from human follicular phase ovary, but not from human corpus luteum or placenta. Additionally, two FSH-binding sites of 76 and 112 kilodaltons were detected in transfected 293 cells after ligand/receptor cross-linking and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis. These results demonstrate the expression of functional hFSH receptor with unique ligand specificity and provide new data on the biochemical properties of the human receptor at the mRNA and protein levels.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992JG58100039

    View details for PubMedID 1322283



    Inhibin suppresses the pituitary secretion of FSH but not LH. The two forms of inhibin are composed of a common alpha subunit linked to either a beta A or a beta B subunit. The mouse inhibin alpha gene was isolated and shown to have two exons spanning a 1.7 Kb intron. The proximal 5' flanking region has neither TATA and CAAT boxes nor GC-rich area. Using the 5' flanking region of mouse inhibin alpha gene linked to luciferase gene, transfection of rat granulosa cells indicated that the first 165 bp of the promoter region is required for basal expression. The mouse inhibin alpha genomic clone should be useful for analysis of hormonal control of inhibin alpha transcription and the generation of mice with targeted deletion of this gene.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992JE59900040

    View details for PubMedID 1632772



    The anterior pituitary hormones, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), act upon the ovary and testis via occupancy of specific cell membrane receptors, resulting in increased cAMP production, steroidogenesis, and expression of differentiation-related genes. Recent cloning of the cDNAs for LH and FSH receptors allows the analysis of mRNA levels for these receptors in gonadal tissues. This review summarizes progress in elucidating the molecular basis of LH and FSH receptor gene regulation in the ovary and testis during different physiologic states.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992JB09200003

    View details for PubMedID 18407096



    On the basis of earlier observations of changing testicular LH receptor levels during postnatal development of the rat, we analyzed the levels of LH receptor mRNA transcripts in testes of rats at ages 5-70 days. Extracted testis RNA, prepared for Northern blotting, was hybridized with a specific LH receptor cRNA probe derived from subcloned cDNA corresponding to the extracellular domain of the receptor. Six LH receptor mRNA transcripts with molecular sizes of 7.8, 7.0, 4.2, 2.5, 1.8, and 1.2 kb were identified. Of these, the 1.2- and the 1.8-kb mRNA transcripts presumably code for truncated forms of LH receptor. At 5 days, only the 1.8- and the 4.2-kb mRNA transcripts were observed. Additional 7.0- and 1.2-kb transcripts appeared at 10 and 15 days, respectively. From the age of 25 days through adulthood, all six mRNA transcripts were observed. Densitometric analyses revealed that the amounts of the 7.0- and 1.8-kb mRNA transcripts correlated well with LH receptor levels, while the 4.2-kb transcript showed high levels earlier in life with poor correlation to LH receptor number. Because the 1.8 kb receptor transcript lacked transmembrane domains, the present results suggest the 7.0-kb LH receptor transcript as the likely candidate to encode the functional receptor. These data provide the basis for future analyses of the molecular regulation of LH receptor expression.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992HV72700005

    View details for PubMedID 1391300



    The maturation of ovarian granulosa cells is dependent upon the pituitary gonadotropin FSH, the actions of which are mediated via specific plasma membrane receptors. To study the regulation of ovarian FSH receptor expression at the mRNA level, we used a specific cRNA probe to evaluate changes in FSH receptor transcripts in cultured granulosa cells. Granulosa cells obtained from immature estrogen-treated rats contained two predominant FSH receptor mRNA transcripts (7.0 and 2.5 kilobases), the levels of which declined in a time-related manner during a 2-day culture period. However, inclusion of FSH (30 ng/ml) in the culture medium prevented the decline in FSH receptor mRNA levels. Compared to controls, treatment of granulosa cells for 48 h with FSH (1-100 ng/ml) increased FSH receptor mRNA levels in a dose-dependent manner (ED50, 4.5 ng/ml), with a maximal 5.9 +/- 0.7-fold increase observed in response to 30 ng/ml FSH. The stimulatory actions of FSH were mimicked by the adenyl cyclase activator forskolin (0.1-30 microM), suggesting the involvement of cAMP in FSH receptor gene transcription and/or mRNA stability. Incubation of granulosa cells for 48 h with epidermal growth factor (EGF; 0.3-10 ng/ml), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF; 1-30 ng/ml), or insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I; 1-30 ng/ml) did not affect basal FSH receptor mRNA levels, whereas the highest doses of EGF and bFGF, but not IGF-I, completely suppressed the stimulatory effects of FSH (30 ng/ml) on its own receptor mRNA levels. Similarly, GnRH (10-1000 nM) attenuated the actions of FSH on its receptor mRNA levels in a dose-dependent manner (ID50, 8 nM). The inhibitory effects of GnRH (100 nM) were reversed by cotreatment with a GnRH antagonist ([Ac-D-Phe1,D-pCl-Phe2,D-Trp3,6]GnRH; 100 nM), indicating that the actions of GnRH are mediated via specific GnRH receptors. These data indicate that treatment of granulosa cells with FSH increases the levels of two FSH receptor mRNA transcripts. However, this positive feedback system, which may lead to an amplification of FSH action, is tightly regulated by the inhibitory actions of EGF, bFGF, and GnRH. Thus, the use of cultured rat granulosa cells provides a model system to analyze the hormonal regulation of FSH receptor gene expression in the ovary.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992HG16100029

    View details for PubMedID 1311235



    The actions of gonadotropins on ovarian differentiation are associated with dynamic changes in gonadotropin receptor content, presumably due to modulation of receptor gene expression. The present studies used a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction to obtain a rat FSH receptor cDNA fragment, followed by synthesis of a labeled cRNA probe to examine the regulation of FSH receptor mRNA levels during follicular maturation, ovulation, and luteinization. Northern blot analysis of ovarian RNA with the FSH receptor probe revealed two predominant hybridization signals of 7.0 and 2.5 kilobases (kb) as well as minor signals of 4.2 and 1.8 kb. Treatment of immature rats with PMSG (10 IU) to induce follicular development resulted in increased FSH receptor mRNA levels 24 h after treatment, with a further increase at 52 h, coincident with increased [125I]FSH binding. Subsequent treatment with an ovulatory dose of hCG decreased FSH binding and receptor mRNA levels by 6 h, with a maximal inhibition at 24 h after hCG. In luteinized ovaries obtained 3 and 5 days after hCG treatment, the 7.0-kb FSH receptor mRNA increased again, but no concomitant elevation of [125I]FSH binding was detected. We recently demonstrated that FSH treatment alone is capable of inducing follicular growth and ovulation, thus providing a unique model to evaluate the effects of FSH on regulation of its receptor gene. Immature hypophysectomized estrogen-treated rats were implanted with an osmotic minipump delivering recombinant human FSH (rcFSH; 4 IU/day) to stimulate follicle growth, followed 52 h later with a single injection (20 IU) of rcFSH to induce ovulation. Stimulation of follicular growth with rcFSH increased both FSH receptor binding and mRNA levels. In contrast, the ovulatory dose of rcFSH decreased FSH binding and receptor message levels within 12 h. Thus, gonadotropin regulation of ovarian FSH receptor content during follicular growth, ovulation, and luteinization is associated with similar changes in FSH receptor message levels. Also, studies using rcFSH demonstrate that both up- and down-regulation of FSH receptor gene expression can be induced by the homologous hormone at different stages of follicle development.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992HG16100028

    View details for PubMedID 1537292

  • Molecular basis of inhibin production and action. Molecular and cellular neurosciences LaPolt, P. S., Hsueh, A. J. 1991; 2 (6): 449-463

    View details for PubMedID 19912830



    In the ovary, greater than 99% of the follicles present at birth are destined to degenerate during life. In humans, less than 400 of the more than 400,000 follicles found at puberty will eventually ovulate whereas the overwhelming majority of follicles undergo atresia. Although follicular atresia plays a critical role during the recruitment of follicles for ovulation, the exact mechanism of this process is unknown. In chicken and porcine ovaries, atretic follicles can be morphologically distinguished from their healthy counterparts of the same size. Adapting a sensitive 3'-end labeling method for DNA analysis, we identified internucleosomal cleavage of cellular DNA in atretic (but not normal) follicles of both animal species, resembling that found during programmed cell death in embryogenesis, autoimmune T-cell removal and prostate regression. The present findings provide a basis for elucidating the hormonal signals involved in the initiation of follicular atresia during follicle recruitment, reproductive aging and premature ovarian failure.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991GM34900077

    View details for PubMedID 1718732



    Although earlier reports suggest a stimulatory effect of FSH on Leydig cell function, controversy exists due to unavailability of FSH preparations free of contaminating LH. Recent availability of recombinant human FSH preparations made it possible to reinvestigate this question. Immature male rats were hypophysectomized (21-22 days old at surgery) and implanted with osmotic minipumps releasing 8 IU recombinant FSH or 18 IU purified human pituitary FSH (hpFSH)/day, whereas control animals received vehicle alone. After 7 days of treatment, testicular weight increased in the recombinant FSH and hpFSH-treated animals to values 2.3- and 2.5-fold those of controls, respectively. Analyses of the steroidogenic capacity of Leydig cells in testes of rats treated with recombinant FSH or hpFSH also revealed 2.9- and 3.8-fold androgen production in vitro compared to controls. In these rats recombinant FSH and hpFSH increased the LH receptor number in testicular homogenate by 50% and 70%, respectively. The increase in LH receptor number was associated with increases in the LH receptor mRNA levels. In hypophysectomized control rats, small seminiferous tubules contained spermatogonia and zygotene/early pachytene spermatocytes. In contrast, treatment with either FSH preparation enhanced the progression of meiosis, as evidenced by large number of pachytene spermatocytes and appearance of round spermatids. The present results show that LH-free recombinant FSH, like purified pituitary FSH, is capable of increasing the LH receptor content and steroidogenic responsiveness of Leydig cells through paracrine mechanisms together with a stimulatory effect on spermatogenesis. These observations suggest that prepubertal elevation of FSH secretion may be important for increasing Leydig cell steroidogenic capacity and spermatogenic progression.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991GH33600035

    View details for PubMedID 1915076



    hCG is a member of a family of glycoprotein hormones which share a common alpha-subunit, but differ in their hormone-specific beta-subunits. The CG beta-subunit is unique in that it contains a hydrophilic carboxyl-terminal extension with four serine O-linked oligosaccharides. To examine the role of the O-linked oligosaccharides and the carboxyl-terminal extension of hCG beta on receptor binding, steroidogenesis in vitro, and ovulation induction in vivo, site-directed mutagenesis and gene transfer methods were used. Wild-type hCG alpha and hCG beta expression vectors were transfected into an O-glycosylation mutant Chinese hamster ovary cell line to produce intact dimer hCG lacking the beta-subunit O-linked oligosaccharide units. In addition, a mutant hCG beta gene (CG beta delta T) was generated which contained a premature termination signal at codon 115. This gene was cotransfected with the hCG alpha gene into Chinese hamster ovary cells to produce hCG dimer which lacked the carboxyl-terminal amino acids 115-145 of hCG beta (truncated hCG). The O-linked oligosaccharide deficient or truncated hCG derivatives were examined for their ability to bind to the mouse LH/hCG receptor and stimulate cAMP and steroidogenesis in vitro. These studies show that the O-linked oligosaccharides and carboxyl-terminal extension play a minor role in receptor binding and signal transduction. In contrast, comparison of the stimulatory effects of truncated and wild-type hCG in a rat ovulation assay in vivo via either intrabursal or iv injection revealed that the truncated derivative was approximately 3-fold less active than wild-type hCG. These findings indicate that the carboxyl-terminal extension of hCG beta and associated O-linked oligosaccharides are not important for receptor binding or in vitro signal transduction, but are critical for in vivo biological responses.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990CG37900051

    View details for PubMedID 2293995



    Some modified forms of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) may not cross react with the FSH antibody used in the radioimmunoassay (RIA), but still retain their biological activities. Therefore, estimates of immunoreactive FSH may not correspond with FSH bioactivity. The use of in vitro FSH bioassays may disclose possible roles of these heterogenous forms in vivo under various conditions. This review will focus on the history of FSH bioassays, and the widely used in vivo Steelman and Pohley bioassay, based on ovarian weight increase after injection into female rats, is discussed. Since 1971 different biological activities of FSH in various target tissues have been used for the in vitro estimates of FSH bioactivity. The aromatase bioassays involve the measurement of oestradiol in medium of FSH treated Sertoli cells or granulosa cells in culture. Estimates of FSH bioactivity, using the rat granulosa cell bioassay, in serum and urine or normally cycling women, during gonadotropin-releasing hormone-antagonist treatment in hypergonadotropic hypogonadal women and during different stages of female pubertal development will be discussed in more detail.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989CF63800011

    View details for PubMedID 2513451