The cellular form of the prion protein (PrP(C)) has been detected in many tissues including reproductive tissues. While its function is unclear, it has been suggested to act as a receptor for an unidentified ligand and/or as an antioxidant agent. We tested the hypothesis that PrP(C) is differentially expressed in dominant, growing, compared to subordinate bovine ovarian follicles. Using both microarray analysis and quantitative real-time PCR, the level of prion protein mRNA (Prnp) in both theca and granulosa cells was measured. We found that levels of Prnp were significantly higher in the theca cells of dominant compared to subordinate follicles but similar among granulosa cells from different follicles. This difference was apparent immediately after selection of the dominant follicle and continued to the dominance stage of the follicle wave. Levels of the protein for PrP(C) were also higher (P < 0.05) in theca cells of dominant compared to subordinate follicles. In conclusion, elevated PrP(C) was associated with ovarian follicle growth and development and we suggest that it may play a role in the success of follicle development.
University College Dublin ->