Browsing by Organization "University of Helsinki, Biomedicum Helsinki, Programme for developmental and reproductive biology"

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  • Kaivo-oja, Noora (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    In the ovary, two new members of the large TGF-beta superfamily of growth factors were discovered in the 1990s. The oocyte was shown to express two closely related growth factors that were named growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF-9) and growth differentiation factor 9B (GDF-9B). Both of these proteins are required for normal ovarian follicle development although their individual significance varies between species. GDF-9 and GDF-9B mRNAs are expressed in the human oocytes from the primary follicle stage onwards. This thesis project was aimed to define the signalling mechanisms utilized by the oocyte secreted GDF-9. We used primary cultures of human granulosa luteal cells (hGL) as our cell model, and recombinant adenovirus-mediated gene transfer in manipulating the TGF-b family signalling cascade molecules in these cells. Overexpression of the constitutively active forms of the seven type I receptors, the activin receptor-like kinases 1-7 (ALK1-7), using recombinant adenoviruses caused a specific activation of either the Smad1 or Smad2 pathway proteins depending on the ALK used. Activation of both Smad1 and Smad2 proteins also stimulated the expression of dimeric inhibin B protein in hGL cells. Treatment with recombinant GDF-9 protein induced the specific activation of the Smad2 pathway and stimulated the expression of inhibin betaB subunit mRNA as well as inhibin B protein secretion in our cell model. Recombinant GDF-9 also activated the Smad3-responsive CAGA-luciferase reported construct, and the GDF-9 response in hGL cells was markedly potentiated upon the overexpression of Alk5 by adenoviral gene transduction. Alk5 overexpression also enhanced the GDF-9 induced inhibin B secretion by these cells. Similarly, in a mouse teratocarcinoma cell line P19, GDF-9 could activate the Smad2/3 pathway, and overexpression of ALK5 in COS7 cells rendered them responsive to GDF-9. Furthermore, transfection of rat granulosa cells with small interfering RNA for ALK5 or overexpression of the inhibitory Smad7 resulted in dose-dependent suppression of GDF-9 effects. In conclusion, this thesis shows that both Smad1 and Smad2 pathways are involved in controlling the regulation of inhibin B secretion. Therefore, in addition to endocrine control of inhibin production by the pituitary gonadotropins, also local paracrine factors within in the ovary, like the oocyte-derived growth factors, may contribute to controlling inhibin secretion. This thesis shows as well that like other TGF-beta family ligands, also GDF-9 signalling is mediated by the canonical type I and type II receptors with serine/threonine kinase activity, and the intracellular transcription factors, the Smads. Although GDF-9 binds to the BMP type II receptor, its downstream actions are specifically mediated by the type I receptor, ALK5, and the Smad2 and Smad3 proteins.