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Recent Prog Horm Res. 1995;50:223-54.

Ovarian cell differentiation: a cascade of multiple hormones, cellular signals, and regulated genes.

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Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


During the development of preovulatory follicles, tonic levels of FSH (and steroid) induce expression of aromatase, the LH receptor, and RII beta in a coordinate manner. Despite the similar temporal increase in steady-state levels of mRNA encoding these proteins, the cis-acting DNA elements and trans-acting factors regulating each gene are distinct (Richards, 1993). Whereas the aromatase gene has a TATA motif and a single transcriptional initiation site (Fitzpatrick and Richards, 1993), both the LH receptor (Wang et al., 1992; Tsai-Morris et al., 1993) and RII beta (Kurten et al., 1992; Luo et al., 1992) genes have promoters that are GC rich, lack TATA motifs, and initiate transcription at multiple sites. The aromatase promoter appears to be regulated, in part, by SF-1, a CRE-like region, and possibly another or overlapping region binding an Ad3BP-like factor. The RII beta promoter has a region that binds several nuclear proteins, whose identity is not yet known. Likewise, the LH receptor promoter elements have yet to be clearly defined (Figures 2, 4, and 25; Kurten et al., 1992). FSH can also induce the expression of at least three immediate-early genes that encode novel kinases or kinase-like proteins (Figure 25). One of these is called serum-inducible kinase (snk) (Simmons et al., 1992), another is serum and glucocorticoid regulated kinase (sgk) (Webster et al., 1993), and a third is called pole kinase (Clay et al., 1993). Steady-state levels of snk and sgk mRNA are induced rapidly (within a few hours) by FSH in granulosa cells prior to the appearance of transcripts for aromatase, LH receptor, and RII beta (T. Alliston and J. S. Richards, in preparation). The functional role of these kinases in the initial response of granulosa cells to tonic (not surge) levels of FSH remains to be elucidated. The cellular signaling pathways mediating the effects of the LH surge appear equally or more complex (Fig. 25). Based on data presented herein, as well as on analyses of the cloned and expressed LH receptor (Guderman et al., 1992), it is clear that low concentrations of LH stimulate adenylyl cyclase, cAMP production, and activation of protein kinase A. Higher (surge) concentrations of LH also increase IP3 and activation of protein kinase C. GnRH has been used in several studies to examine the ability of the protein kinase C pathway to mimic effects of high LH.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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