The pituitary gonadotropins FSH and LH are key hormones for regulating gametogenesis and steroidogenesis in the ovary and testis. The cell surface receptors that mediate the biological activities of these hormones are thought to be expressed in a cell-specific fashion in the ovary and are regulated as animals progress through the reproductive cycle. Using cloned receptor cDNAs, we have examined the expression and hormonal regulation of the ovarian FSH and LH receptor mRNAs in the rat. A quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction amplification scheme was used to measure relative levels of the FSH and LH receptor mRNAs, while in situ hybridization was used to localize FSH and LH receptor transcripts. In immature animals, low levels of FSH receptor mRNA are observed in the granulosa cells of small follicles, while low levels of LH receptor mRNA are found in the thecal cells of these same follicles. After stimulation with PMSG, levels of both mRNAs increase, and the LH receptor mRNA is localized in both the granulosa and thecal cells of large follicles. Further treatment of PMSG-primed animals with hCG results in down-regulation, particularly of the LH receptor mRNA in granulosa cells. In adult animals, LH receptor mRNA levels change dramatically during the estrous cycle, particularly after the preovulatory LH surge. FSH receptor mRNA levels show a similar pattern of change, but the FSH receptor mRNA is of lower abundance and is not as highly regulated as the LH receptor mRNA. FSH receptor mRNA is confined to the granulosa cells of healthy developing follicles, whereas LH receptor mRNA is localized predominantly to thecal cells of small follicles on estrous morning, then appears in the granulosa cells of growing follicles by diestrous morning. LH receptor mRNA is also found in interstitial tissues and corpora lutea throughout much of the estrous cycle. Our results indicate that the gonadotropin receptor genes are regulated in a complex fashion during the recruitment, maturation, and ovulation of the ovarian follicle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology