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Endocrinology. 1999 Dec;140(12):5469-77.

Characterization of the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family member myeloid cell leukemia-1 (Mcl-1) and the stimulation of its message by gonadotropins in the rat ovary.

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  • 1Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Stanford University Medical Center, California 94305-5317, USA.


The majority of ovarian follicles undergo atresia mediated by apoptosis. Bcl-2-related proteins act as regulators of apoptosis via the formation of dimers with proteins inside and outside the Bcl-2 family. Previous studies have identified BAD as a proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member expressed in the ovary. It is known that BAD phosphorylation induced by survival factors leads to its preferential binding to 14-3-3 and suppression of the death-inducing function of BAD. To identify ovarian binding partners for hypophosphorylated BAD, we performed a yeast two-hybrid screening of a rat ovary complementary DNA library using as bait a mutant BAD incapable of binding to 14-3-3. Screening of yeast transformants yielded positive clones encoding the rat ortholog of Mcl-1 (myeloid cell leukemia-1), an antiapoptotic Bcl-2 protein. Amino acid sequence analysis revealed that rat and human Mcl-1 showed a complete conservation of the Bcl-2 homology domains BH1, BH2, and BH3. In the yeast two-hybrid system, Mcl-1 binds to the hypophosphorylated mutant of BAD and interacts preferentially with different proapoptotic (Bax, Bak, Bok, Bik, and BOD) compared with antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-w, Bfl-1, CED-9, and BHRF-1). Northern blot hybridization demonstrated expression of Mcl-1 transcripts of 2.3 and 3.7 kb in the ovary and diverse other rat tissues. In immature rats, PMSG treatment led to a transient increase in the 2.3-kb Mcl-1 transcript, peaking at 6 h after injection and returning to baseline levels after 24 h. Moreover, the same transcript was induced in the PMSG-primed preovulatory rat ovary 6 h after the administration of ovulatory doses of either hCG or FSH. In situ hybridization studies revealed that the gonadotropin stimulation of ovarian Mcl-1 message occurs in both granulosa and thecal cells. In conclusion, rat Mcl-1 was identified as an ovarian BAD-interacting protein and the message for the antiapoptotic Mcl-1 protein was induced after treatment with gonadotropins in granulosa and thecal cells of growing follicles.

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