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Growth differentiation factor 9 regulates the expression of estrogen receptors via Smad2/3 signaling in goat cumulus cells.

Theriogenology 2024 Februrary 23
Both oocyte secretory factors (OSFs) and estrogen are essential for the development and function of mammalian ovarian follicles, playing synergistic role in regulating oocyte growth. OSFs can significantly affect the biological processes regulated by estrogen in cumulus cells (CCs). It is a scientific question worth investigating whether oocyte secretory factors can influence the expression of estrogen receptors in CCs. In our study, we observed a significant increase in the mRNA and protein expressions of estrogen receptor β (Esr2/ERβ) and G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) in cumulus cells of goat cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) cultured in vitro for 6 h. Furthermore, the addition of 10 ng/mL growth-differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) and 5 ng/mL bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) to the culture medium of goat COCs resulted in a significant increase in the expressions of ERβ and GPER in cumulus cells. To explore the mechanism further, we performed micromanipulation to remove oocyte contents and co-cultured the oocytectomized complexes (OOXs) with denuded oocytes (DOs) or GDF9/BMP15. The expressions of ERβ and GPER in the co-culture groups were significantly higher than those in the OOXs group, but there was no difference compared to the COCs group. Mechanistically, we found that SB431542 (inhibitor of GDF9 bioactivity), but not LDN193189 (inhibitor of BMP15 bioactivity), abolished the upregulation of ERβ and GPER in cumulus cells and the activation of Smad2/3 signaling. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the oocyte secretory factor GDF9 promotes the activation of Smad2/3 signaling in cumulus cells during goat COCs culture in vitro, and the phosphorylation of Smad2/3 induces the expression of estrogen receptors ERβ and GPER in cumulus cells.

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