Ovarian follicles develop in groups yet individual follicles follow different growth trajectories. This growth and development are regulated by endocrine and locally produced growth factors that use a myriad of receptors and signal transduction pathways to exert their effects on theca and granulosa cells. We hypothesize that differential growth may be due to differences in hormonal responsiveness that is partially mediated by differences in expression of genes involved in signal transduction. We used the bovine dominant follicle model, microarrays, quantitative real-time PCR and RNA interference to examine this. We identified 83 genes coding for signal transduction molecules and validated a subset of them associated with different stages of the follicle wave. We suggest important roles for CAM kinase-1 and EphA4 in theca cells and BCAR1 in granulosa cells for the development of dominant follicles and for betaglycan and FIBP in granulosa cells of regressing subordinate follicles. Inhibition of genes for betaglycan and FIBP in granulosa cells in vitro suggests that they inhibit estradiol production in regressing subordinate follicles.
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