Although the existence of plasminogen activator (PA) activity and the factors that regulate it in ovarian granulosa cells of both mammalian and avian species have been extensively documented, very little information has been generated concerning the control of PA activity in the adjacent thecal layer. This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of several physiological and pharmacological agents on PA activity in dispersed cells from the thecal layer of the largest preovulatory follicle in the hen ovary 17-16 h before ovulation. LH (50 and 100 ng) in the presence of 3-isobutyl-l-meth-ylxanthine (0.01 mM) stimulated an approximate 25% increase in cell-associated PA activity, possibly via elevated levels of cAMP. Prostaglandin E1and E2(PGE1and PGE2; 0.1 and 1 μM), but not PGI2or PGF2α (1 μM), enhanced PA activity and cAMP formation, effects that were potentiated by 0.01 mM 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine. Activation of G8with cholera toxin (0.01-10 ng/tube) or adenylyl cyclase with forskolin (0.01-10 μM) stimulated cAMP formation and PA activity in a dose-dependent manner. Exposure of cells to the cAMP analog 8-bromo-cAMP (0.1-5 mM) caused similar increases in thecal cell PA activity. Incubation of cells with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA; 3.2-162 nM), an agonist known to activate protein kinase-C, resulted in a dose-dependent increase in PA activity. However, an equimolar concentration of phorbol 13-monoacetate (162 nM), an inactive analog of PMA that does not activate protein kinase-C, was without effect. Coincubation of cells with forskolin (1 μM) and PMA (32 nM) resulted in a synergistic stimulation of secreted PA activity, apparently via an enhancement of adenylyl cyclase activity. Treatment of cells with the calcium ionophore A23187 (0.01-1 μM) suppressed basal PA activity. However, PA activity stimulated by PMA (32 nM) was synergistically increased after coincubation with a 0.05-μM concentration of A23187, but was inhibited at doses of 0.5 and 1 μM. Taken collectively, the data indicate that PA activity is present in the thecal layer of the largest preovulatory follicle in the ovary of the domestic hen. Furthermore, several endocrine factors (i.e. LH and PGs) were found to stimulate PA activity, possibly via both the adenylyl cyclase-cAMP-protein kinase-A and phosphoinositide-protein kinase-C pathways. In light of these findings, we propose that the preovulatory increase in PGs and LH activates PA in the thecal layer of the largest preovulatory follicle, resulting in proteolytic degradation of the follicular connective tissue and, ultimately, ovulation.
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