Gap junctional proteins, connexin 26, 32, and 43 in sheep ovaries throughout the estrous cycle

A T Grazul-Bilska, D A Redmer, J J Bilski, A Jablonka-Shariff, V Doraiswamy, L P Reynolds
Endocrine 1998, 8 (3): 269-79
Ovarian follicles from days 13, 14, 15, and 16 and corpora lutea (CL) from days 2, 4, 8, 12, and 15 of the estrous cycle were evaluated for the presence of connexins by immunohistochemistry. In addition, CL from days 5, 10, and 15 of the estrous cycle were used for immunofluorescent detection of Cx43 followed by image analysis, and for Western immunoblot. In all tissues, staining for all connexins appeared punctate, indicating the presence of assembled gap junctions. Cx26 was present in the ovarian surface epithelium, stroma, and blood vessels within the stroma and hilus, and in the CL. In healthy antral follicles, Cx26 was present only in the theca layer, whereas Cx43 was present in granulosa and theca layers. In the majority of atretic follicles, connexins were not detected, but in 13% of the atretic follicles, Cx43 was present in the theca layer. Cx32 was detected in the blood vessels of ovarian stroma and in the CL, and Cx43 was detected in the CL. Localization and/or expression of connexins depended on stage of luteal development. Western analysis demonstrated that expression of Cx32 in luteal tissues was similar across the estrous cycle. The area of positive staining for Cx43 and expression of Cx43 in luteal tissues decreased (p < 0.05) as the estrous cycle progressed. The pattern of expression of connexins indicates that gap junctional proteins may be important in the regulation of folliculogenesis and follicular atresia, as well as growth, differentiation, and regression of the CL.

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