Co-expression of messenger ribonucleic acids encoding IGF-I, IGF-II, type I and II IGF receptors and IGF-binding proteins (IGFBP-1 to -6) during follicular development in the ovary of seasonally anoestrous ewes

P M Hastie, O M Onagbesan, W Haresign
Animal Reproduction Science 2004, 84 (1): 93-105
In recent years, it has become apparent that components of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system are involved in the regulation of ovarian follicular development in sheep. The majority of previous studies have concentrated on investigating only a select few components and not the whole system. The aim of the present study was to use five seasonally anoestrous ewes to investigate the expression of mRNA encoding all 10 components of the sheep IGF system among various-sized follicles within the ovary, using sheep-specific ribonucleotide probes and in situ hybridisation. IGF-I mRNA expression was low and did not vary with follicle size. IGF-II mRNA expression was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in small follicles compared to large follicles. Both IGF receptors had significantly higher (P < 0.05) levels of mRNA expression in small follicles, with the type I receptor being expressed to a slightly greater extent than the type II receptor. IGFBP-2, -3, -4 and -5 gene expression followed a similar pattern to IGF-II and the IGF receptors, whereby expression decreased with increasing follicle size. Similar to IGF-I, IGFBP-6 mRNA expression showed little variation with follicle size. IGFBP-1 mRNA expression was observed at low and constant levels, albeit in small and medium-sized follicles only. These data demonstrate that all of the components of the IGF system are produced in the ovine follicle, and for some of the components, their gene expression varied with stage of follicle development. This study further emphasises the importance of IGF-II as the major IGF in the autocrine and paracrine regulation of follicle development in sheep.

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