Y. Pang, W. Ge
Feb 25, 2002
Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology
We have previously demonstrated that both activin and its receptors are expressed in the zebrafish ovary, suggesting paracrine roles for activin in the ovarian functions. Activin significantly stimulated zebrafish oocyte maturation in vitro, and this effect could be blocked by follistatin, an activin-binding protein. Interestingly, follistatin also blocked the stimulatory effect of gonadotropin (hCG) on the oocyte maturation. Taken together, these results have led to a hypothesis that the ovarian activin system may play a role in mediating the actions of gonadotropin in the ovary. To test this hypothesis, the present study was undertaken to investigate if gonadotropin has any effect on the expression of activin betaA subunit and activin type IIA (ActRIIA) receptor in the zebrafish ovary. A primary culture of zebrafish ovarian follicle cells was established in the present study, and the cultured cells expressed both activin betaA and ActRIIA receptor when assayed with RT-PCR. The primary culture consisted of three major types of cells, presumably the fibroblasts, the thecal cells and the granulosa cells, according to the morphological features, histochemical staining for 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3beta-HSD) and RT-PCR for aromatase. Using a semi-quantitative RT-PCR with beta-actin as the internal control, we demonstrated that hCG significantly stimulated mRNA expression of both activin betaA and ActRIIA receptor in the cultured follicle cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Treatment of the cells with hCG quickly increased the steady-state mRNA levels of activin betaA and ActRIIA receptor, and the effect peaked at 2 h of treatment. The stimulatory effect of gonadotropin diminished with longer treatment and no effect was observed at 8 h of treatment. The effect of hCG also exhibited strong dose dependence when assayed at 2 h of treatment. The levels of activin betaA and ActRIIA receptor mRNA elevated with increasing dose of hCG; however, the effect significantly decreased at dosage higher than 15 IU/ml. Consistent with the stimulatory effect of gonadotropin on the expression of activin betaA and ActRIIA receptor, IBMX, forskolin and 8-Br-cAMP all significantly increased the mRNA levels of activin betaA and ActRIIA receptor. These results suggest that gonadotropin activates the activin system in the zebrafish ovary by increasing the expression of both activin and its receptors.