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Endocrinology. 2000 Apr;141(4):1545-53.

Platelet-derived growth factor activates porcine thecal cell phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-Akt/PKB and ras-extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 kinase signaling pathways via the platelet-derived growth factor-beta receptor.

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Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, The Center for Reproductive Sciences, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City 66160, USA.


Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is a potent mitogenic factor for ovarian thecal cells cultured in vitro. PDGF binds to and induces homo- or heterodimerization of PDGF receptor-a or -beta (PDGF-Ralpha or PDGF-Rbeta). Despite this, little information is available about which PDGF receptors are expressed in the ovary, what signaling cascades are activated by PDGF, and the effects of PDGF on thecal cell steroidogenesis. The present study demonstrates the expression of immunoreactive PDGF-Rbeta, but not PDGF-Ralpha, in the thecal and stromal compartments of intact porcine ovaries as well as in cultured porcine thecal cells. Treatment of porcine thecal cells in vitro with PDGF resulted in rapid and sustained tyrosine phosphorylation of PDGF-Rbeta, activation of Src tyrosine kinase and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-kinase), and serine 473 phosphorylation of Akt/protein kinase B. In addition, PDGF stimulated an increase in GTP-Ras (activated Ras) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation. Both forms of PDGF, AB and BB, stimulated thecal cell growth approximately 3- to 4-fold over controls and inhibited LH-stimulated progesterone and androstenedione secretion. Blockade of PI3-kinase activation with wortmannin had no effect on PDGF-stimulated thecal cell growth or PDGF inhibition ofLH-stimulated steroid secretion, indicating that PI3-kinase activation is not necessary for PDGF-stimulated thecal cell growth or inhibition of LH-stimulated steroidogenesis. Conversely, blockade of the MEK-ERK pathway with PD98059 completely blocked PDGF-stimulated cell growth, indicating that activation of the MEK-ERK pathway is required for PDGF-stimulated thecal cell growth. Additionally, the MEK inhibitor PD98059 restored LH-stimulated steroid secretion, demonstrating that activation of the MEK-ERK pathway can lead to inhibition of LH-stimulated steroid secretion. The present study demonstrates that PDGF acts on ovarian thecal cells via activation of the PDGF beta-receptor and stimulates thecal cell growth via activation of a Rasmitogen-activated protein kinase-dependent, PI3-kinase-independent pathway. The strong expression of PDGF-Rbeta and the potent effects of PDGF on thecal cell growth and steroidogenesis suggest an important role for PDGF in thecal cell recruitment and growth during follicular development in vivo.

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