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Mol Endocrinol. 2007 Aug;21(8):1940-57. Epub 2007 May 29.

Follicle-stimulating hormone induces multiple signaling cascades: evidence that activation of Rous sarcoma oncogene, RAS, and the epidermal growth factor receptor are critical for granulosa cell differentiation.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


FSH regulates ovarian granulosa cell differentiation not only by activating adenylyl cyclase and protein kinase A (PKA) but also by other complex mechanisms. Using primary rat granulosa cell cultures, we provide novel evidence that FSH rapidly activates two small GTP-binding proteins RAP1 and RAS. FSH activation of RAP1 requires cAMP-mediated activation of exchange factor activated by cAMP/RAPGEF3 whereas FSH activation of RAS and downstream signaling cascades involves multiple factors. Specifically, FSH activation of RAS required Rous sarcoma oncogene (SRC) family tyrosine kinase (SFK) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase activities but not PKA. FSH-induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was blocked by dominant-negative RAS as well as by inhibitors of EGFR tyrosine kinase, metalloproteinases involved in growth factor shedding, and SFKs. In contrast, FSH-induced phosphorylation of protein kinase B (PKB/AKT) and the Forkhead transcription factor, FOXO1a occurred by SFK-dependent but RAS-independent mechanisms. The SFKs, c-SRC and FYN, and the SRC-related tyrosine kinase ABL were present and phosphorylated rapidly in response to FSH. Lastly, the EGF-like factor amphiregulin (AREG) activated RAS and ERK1/2 phosphorylation in granulosa cells by mechanisms that were selectively blocked by an EGFR antagonist but not by an SFK antagonist. However, AREG-mediated phosphorylation of PKB and FOXO1a required both EGFR and SFK activation. Moreover, we show that FSH induces AREG and that activation of the EGFR impacts granulosa cell differentiation and the expression of genes characteristic of the luteal cell phenotype. Thus, FSH orchestrates the coordinate activation of three diverse membrane-associated signaling cascades (adenylyl cyclase, RAS, and SFKs) that converge downstream to activate specific kinases (PKA, ERK1/2, and PKB/FOXO1a) that control granulosa cell function and differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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