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Gonadotropic control of ovarian follicle maturation: the two-stage concept and its mechanisms.

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U.S. Geological Survey Texas Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Texas Tech University, 79409-2120, Lubbock, TX, USA.


Most research on the control of oocyte maturation by luteinizing hormone (LH) in teleosts and amphibians has focused on the production and action of maturation-inducing hormone (MIH), the follicular hormone that directly triggers the resumption of oocyte meiosis. However, current information indicates that LH regulates maturation in two stages, and that 'oocyte maturation' can be appropriately described within the broader context of 'ovarian follicle maturation'. During the first stage of maturation the follicle (somatic) cells acquire the ability to produce MIH and the oocyte to respond to MIH (i.e. oocyte maturational competence, OMC), whereas in the second stage the follicle cells produce MIH and, consequently, the oocyte is released from meiotic arrest. A number of factors such as insulin-like growth factor-I, serotonin, and others may mediate or modulate the OMC-inducing action of LH. Like the acquisition of MIH-producing ability, the acquisition of OMC requires activation of the protein kinase A pathway. Two major cellular events associated with OMC acquisition are increases in homologous and heterologous gap junction contacts and in oocyte MIH receptor activity. The increased oocyte MIH receptor activity is presumably associated with OMC acquisition, but the significance of changes in gap junction contacts is at present uncertain. To eliminate inconsistency and ambiguity associated with current terminology we propose that the term, ovarian follicle (or oocyte) maturation be used for teleosts without qualifiers such as 'final' to define the first and second stages of follicular maturation.

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