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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Feb 11;405(2):319-24. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.01.039. Epub 2011 Jan 13.

Epiregulin-dependent amphiregulin expression and ERBB2 signaling are involved in luteinizing hormone-induced paracrine signaling pathways in mouse ovary.

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Department of Life Science and Pharmaceutical Science, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea.


Sustained EGF receptor (EGFR) phosphorylation by de novo synthesis of EGFR ligands plays an essential role in mediating luteinizing hormone (LH)-induced ovulation process in the preovulatory follicles (POFs). In the present study, the effect of epiregulin (EREG) on oocyte maturation and ovulation was investigated using Ereg knockout (Ereg-/-) mice congenic on a C57BL/6 background. Rate of spontaneous oocyte meiotic resumption of denuded oocytes (DOs) or cumulus cell-oocyte complexes (COCs) in vitro is similar between wild-type and Ereg-/- mice. However, gonadotropin-induced meiotic resumption in vivo is attenuated, and the number of COCs with expanded cumulus matrix and superovulated eggs dramatically decrease in Ereg-/- mice. Nonetheless, the number of eggs ovulated during normal estrus cycles and litter sizes in Ereg-/- mice are comparable to those of wild-type littermates. In contrast to other EGFR ligands, induction of amphiregulin (Areg) mRNA is severely reduced in ovaries collected from Ereg-/- mice either after human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) treatment in immature mice or LH surge in adults. Gonadotropin-induced EGFR and ERBB2 phosphorylation in ovaries is attenuated in immature Ereg-/- mice, and MAPK3/1 phosphorylation and prostaglandin synthase 2 (PTGS2) protein levels are reduced. This attenuation, however, is no longer detectable in adult Ereg-/- mice after LH surge. This study implicates that EREG mediates signals downstream of Areg mRNA expression and that EGFR-ERBB2 signals contributes to regulation of ovulation process.

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