In the laying hen ovary, the cyclic recruitment of a follicle represents a process in which a single follicle is selected to enter the rapid growth phase and undergo final maturation prior to ovulation. Published data support the proposal that final differentiation of the granulosa cell (GC) layer commences at the time of follicle selection. This process is characterized by the enhanced capacity for FSH-induced cell signaling via the protein kinase A/cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) pathway. One consequence of such signaling within the GC layer is the initial capacity for steroidogenesis (predominantly progesterone production) mediated by increased expression of mRNA encoding steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR) and the cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A). Prior to selection, the GC layer remains minimally responsive to a 3 h challenge with FSH (10 ng/mL), in vitro, compared to that from the most recently selected 9- to 12-mm follicle. By comparison, when the duration of the cell culture prior to FSH challenge is increased to 18 h, GCs collected from 1- to 2-mm, 3- to 5-mm, and 6- to 8-mm follicles respond to a 3 h FSH challenge by increasing STAR expression and progesterone production, with the greatest response from GCs collected from 6- to 8-mm follicles. Culture with Bone Morphogenetic Protein 6 (BMP6) enhances both CYP11A expression and FSH responsiveness at each stage of development, with the greatest response again occurring in GCs from 6- to 8-mm follicles. Significantly, factors that activate mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) or protein kinase C (PKC) signaling prevent the ability of prolonged culture or culture with BMP6 to induce FSH-responsiveness and the initiation of GC differentiation at each stage of development. Collectively, these results provide further support for the hypothesis that prior to follicle selection, inhibitory cell signaling (e.g., MAPK, PKC) maintains the GC layer in an undifferentiated state in follicles of all sizes, even in the presence of a differentiation-promoting signal (BMP6). The process by which the GC layer from the single 6- to 8-mm follicle selected each ovulatory cycle ultimately escapes inhibitory signaling to initiate FSH-responsiveness remains to be established.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology