Expression and Functional Analysis of the BCL2-Associated Agonist of Cell Death (BAD) Gene in the Sheep Ovary During the Reproductive Cycle.
ABSTRACT: Most ewes in China are seasonally polyestrous with normal ovulatory cycles, which is controlled by photoperiod (length of the daily light phase). These ewes are estrous in the short-day season and anestrus in the long-day season and cannot mate during anestrus. Thus seasonal breeding limits both diversification and intensification of production. If sheep can estrus all round year, it can be mated twice per year, which can greatly improve the economic benefits. To change seasonal estrus at the genetic level and cultivating new sheep breeds, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms of seasonal breeding trait in sheep. The BCL2-associated agonist of cell death (BAD) gene being a regulator of cellular apoptosis was identified by our previous RNA-Seq, which is associated with follicular development in mammalian ovaries. However, the mechanism how BAD can regulate estrus in sheep was poorly understood. In this study, we characterized ovine BAD, including full-length mRNA cloning and protein sequence prediction, as well as BAD expression profile in Small-tailed Han (STH) sheep. The highest expression levels of BAD were observed in sheep hypothalamus, lung, and pituitary, while the lowest expression was in liver. Functional analysis of BAD was performed in primary granulosa cells of sheep. The concentration of P4 was significantly increased after RNAi interference of BAD, while P4 level was shown to be opposite after BAD overexpression in vitro. It has been found that BAD can reduce progesterone levels by promoting ovarian GC apoptosis, which might be involved in regulating the estrus cycle in sheep.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Seasonal estrus is a critical limiting factor of animal fecundity, and it involves changes in both ovarian biology and hormone secretion in different seasons. Previous studies indicate that two classes of small RNAs (miRNAs and piRNAs) play important regulatory roles in ovarian biology. To understand the roles of small RNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation in ovine seasonal estrus, the variation in expression patterns of ovarian small RNAs during anestrus and the breeding season were analyzed using Solexa sequencing technology. In addition, reproductive hormone levels were determined during ovine anestrus and the breeding season. RESULTS: A total of 483 miRNAs (including 97 known, 369 conserved and 17 predicated novel miRNAs), which belong to 183 different miRNA families, were identified in ovaries of Tan sheep and Small Tail Han (STH) sheep. Compared with the three stages of the breeding season, 25 shared significantly differentially expressed (including 19 up- and six down-regulated) miRNAs were identified in ovine anestrus. KEGG Pathway analysis revealed that the target genes for some of the differentially expressed miRNAs were involved in reproductive hormone related pathways (e.g. steroid biosynthesis, androgen and estrogen metabolism and GnRH signaling pathway) as well as follicular/luteal development related pathways. Moreover, the expression of the differentially expressed miRNAs and most of their target genes were negatively correlated in the above pathways. Furthermore, the levels of estrogen, progesterone and LH in ovine anestrus were significantly lower than those in the breeding season. Combining the results of pathway enrichment analysis, expression of target genes and hormone measurement, we suggest that these differentially expressed miRNAs in anestrus might participate in attenuation of ovarian activity by regulating the above pathways. Besides miRNAs, a large and unexpectedly diverse set of piRNAs were also identified. CONCLUSIONS: The miRNA profiles of ovine ovaries in anestrus were presented for the first time. The identification and characterization of miRNAs that are differentially expressed between ovine anestrus and the breeding season will help understanding of the role of miRNAs in the regulation of seasonal estrus, and provides candidates for determining miRNAs which could be potentially used to regulate ovine seasonal estrus.
Project description:Recent work has implicated stimulatory kisspeptin neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) as important for seasonal changes in reproductive function in sheep, but earlier studies support a role for inhibitory A15 dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the suppression of GnRH (and LH) pulse frequency in the nonbreeding (anestrous) season. Because A15 neurons project to the ARC, we performed three experiments to test the hypothesis that A15 neurons act via ARC kisspeptin neurons to inhibit LH in anestrus: 1) we used dual immunocytochemistry to determine whether these ARC neurons contain D2 dopamine receptor (D2-R), the receptor responsible for inhibition of LH in anestrus; 2) we tested the ability of local administration of sulpiride, a D2-R antagonist, into the ARC to increase LH secretion in anestrus; and 3) we determined whether an antagonist to the kisspeptin receptor could block the increase in LH secretion induced by sulpiride in anestrus. In experiment 1, 40% of this ARC neuronal subpopulation contained D2-R in breeding season ewes, but this increased to approximately 80% in anestrus. In experiment 2, local microinjection of the two highest doses (10 and 50 nmol) of sulpiride into the ARC significantly increased LH pulse frequency to levels 3 times that seen with vehicle injections. Finally, intracerebroventricular infusion of a kisspeptin receptor antagonist completely blocked the increase in LH pulse frequency induced by systemic administration of sulpiride to anestrous ewes. These results support the hypothesis that DA acts to inhibit GnRH (and LH) secretion in anestrus by suppressing the activity of ARC kisspeptin neurons.
Project description:Two modes of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion are necessary for female fertility: surge and episodic secretion. However, the neural systems that regulate these GnRH secretion patterns are still under investigation. The neuropeptide somatostatin (SST) inhibits episodic LH secretion in humans and sheep, and several lines of evidence suggest SST may regulate secretion during the LH surge. In this study, we examined whether SST alters the LH surge in ewes by administering a SST receptor (SSTR) 2 agonist (octreotide) or antagonist [CYN154806 (CYN)] into the third ventricle during an estrogen-induced LH surge and whether endogenous SST alters episodic LH secretion. Neither octreotide nor CYN altered the amplitude or timing of the LH surge. Administration of CYN to intact ewes during the breeding season or anestrus increased LH secretion and increased c-Fos in a subset GnRH and kisspeptin cells during anestrus. To determine if these stimulatory effects are steroid dependent or independent, we administered CYN to ovariectomized ewes. This SSTR2 antagonist increased LH pulse frequency in ovariectomized ewes during anestrus but not during the breeding season. This study provides evidence that endogenous SST contributes to the control of LH secretion. The results demonstrate that SST, acting through SSTR2, inhibits episodic LH secretion, likely acting in the mediobasal hypothalamus, but action at this receptor does not alter surge secretion. Additionally, these data provide evidence that SST contributes to the steroid-independent suppression of LH pulse frequency during anestrus.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs, molecules of 21 to 25 nucleotides in length, that regulate gene expression by binding to their target mRNA and play a significant role in animal development. The expression and role of miRNAs in regulating sheep estrus, however, remain elusive. Transcriptome analysis is helpful to understand the biological roles of miRNAs in the pituitary gland of sheep. A sheep's pituitary gland has a significant difference between estrus and anestrus states. Here, we investigate the expression profiles of sheep anterior pituitary microRNAs (miRNAs) in two states, estrus and anestrus, using Illumina HiSeq-technology. This study identified a total of 199 miRNAs and 25 differentially expressed miRNAs in the estrus and anestrus pituitary gland in sheep. Reverse transcription quantitative-PCR (RT-qPCR) analysis shows six differentially (p < 0.05) expressed miRNAs, that are miR-143, miR-199a, miR-181a, miR-200a, miR-218, and miR-221 in both estrus and anestrus states. miRNAs containing estrus-related terms and pathways regulation are enriched using enrichment analysis from gene ontology (GO) and the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG). Moreover, we also envisioned a miRNA-mRNA interaction network to understand the function of miRNAs involved in the pituitary gland regulatory network. In conclusion, miRNA expression profiles in sheep pituitary gland in the anestrus and estrus deliver a theoretical basis for the study of pituitary gland biology in sheep.
Project description:The pituitary gland is the most important endocrine organ that mainly regulates animal estrus by controlling the hormones synthesis. There is a significant difference between the estrus state and anestrus state of sheep pituitary system. Here, we studied the circular RNA (circRNA) expression profiles of the anterior pituitary of estrus and anestrus sheep using RNA-seq technology. Through this study, we identified a total of 12,468 circRNAs and 9,231 differentially expressed circRNAs in the estrus and anestrus pituitary system of sheep. We analyzed some differentially expressed circRNAs by reverse transcription quantitative-PCR (RT-qPCR), and some circRNAs were demonstrated using RNase-R+ resistance experiments. CircRNAs involving the regulation of estrus-related terms and pathways are enriched by using gene ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment analysis. In addition, we also predicted partial microRNA-circRNA interaction network for circRNAs that regulate sheep estrus. Overall, this study explored a potential substantial role played by circRNAs involved in pituitary regulation on sheep estrus and proposed new questions for further study.
Project description:Reproduction in mammals is controlled by the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis under the influence of external and internal factors such as photoperiod, stress, nutrition, and social interactions. Sheep are seasonal breeders and stop mating when day length is increasing (anestrus). However, interactions with a sexually active ram during this period can override the steroid negative feedback responsible for the anoestrus state, stimulate luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion and eventually reinstate cyclicity. This is known as the "ram effect" and research into the mechanisms underlying it is shedding new light on HPG axis regulation. The first step in the ram effect is increased LH pulsatile secretion in anestrus ewes exposed to a sexually active male or only to its fleece, the latter finding indicating a "pheromone-like" effect. Estradiol secretion increases in all ewes and this eventually induces a LH surge and ovulation, just as during the breeding season. An exception is a minority of ewes that exhibit a precocious LH surge (within 4 h) with no prior increase in estradiol. The main olfactory system and the cortical nucleus of the amygdala are critical brain structures in mediating the ram effect since it is blocked by their inactivation. Sexual experience is also important since activation (increased c-fos expression) in these and other regions is greatly reduced in sexually naïve ewes. In adult ewes kisspeptin neurons in both arcuate and preoptic regions and some preoptic GnRH neurons are activated 2 h after exposure to a ram. Exposure to rams also activates noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus and A1 nucleus and increased noradrenalin release occurs in the posterior preoptic area. Pharmacological modulation of this system modifies LH secretion in response to the male or his odor. Together these results show that the ram effect can be a fruitful model to promote both a better understanding of the neural and hormonal regulation of the HPG axis in general and also the specific mechanisms by which male cues can overcome negative steroid feedback and trigger LH release and ovulatory cycles.
Project description:Reproductive activity in sheep is seasonal, being activated by short-day photoperiods and inhibited by long days. During the nonbreeding season, GnRH secretion is reduced by both steroid-independent and steroid-dependent (increased response to estradiol negative feedback) effects of photoperiod. Kisspeptin (also known as metastin) and gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH, or RFRP) are two RFamide neuropeptides that appear critical in the regulation of the reproductive neuroendocrine axis. We hypothesized that expression of kisspeptin and/or RFRP underlies the seasonal change in GnRH secretion. We examined kisspeptin and RFRP (protein and mRNA) expression in the brains of ovariectomized (OVX) ewes treated with estradiol (OVX+E) during the nonbreeding and breeding seasons. In OVX+E ewes, greater expression of kisspeptin and Kiss1 mRNA in the arcuate nucleus and lesser expression of RFRP (protein) in the dorsomedial nucleus of the hypothalamus were concurrent with the breeding season. There was also a greater number of kisspeptin terminal contacts onto GnRH neurons and less RFRP-GnRH contacts during the breeding season (compared with the nonbreeding season) in OVX+E ewes. Comparison of OVX and OVX+E ewes in the breeding and nonbreeding season revealed a greater effect of steroid replacement on inhibition of kisspeptin protein and Kiss1 mRNA expression during the nonbreeding season. Overall, we propose that the two RFamide peptides, kisspeptin and RFRP, act in concert, with opposing effects, to regulate the activity of GnRH neurons across the seasons, leading to the annual change in fertility and the cyclical seasonal transition from nonbreeding to breeding season.
Project description:Orphanin FQ (OFQ), a member of the opioid family, is found in many areas of the hypothalamus and, when given centrally OFQ inhibits episodic LH secretion in rodents and sheep. Because GnRH neurons are devoid of the appropriate receptors to mediate steroid negative feedback directly, neurons that release OFQ may be involved. Using immunocytochemistry, we first determined that most OFQ neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) and other hypothalamic regions of luteal phase ewes contained both estrogen receptor ? and progesterone (P) receptor. Given a similar high degree of steroid receptor colocalization in other ARC subpopulations, we examined whether OFQ neurons of the ARC contained those other neuropeptides and neurotransmitters. OFQ did not colocalize with kisspeptin, tyrosine hydroxylase, or agouti-related peptide, but all ARC OFQ neurons coexpressed proopiomelanocortin. To test for a role for endogenous OFQ, we examined the effects of an OFQ receptor antagonist, [Nphe1,Arg14,Lys15]Nociceptin-NH2 (UFP-101) (30 nmol intracerebroventricular/h), on LH secretion in steroid-treated ewes in the breeding season and ovary-intact ewes in anestrus. Ovariectomized ewes with luteal phase concentrations of P and estradiol showed a significant increase in LH pulse frequency during infusion of UFP-101 (4.5 ± 0.5 pulses/6 h) compared with saline infusion (2.6 ± 0.4 pulses/6 h), whereas ewes implanted with only estradiol did not. Ovary-intact anestrous ewes displayed no significant differences in LH pulse amplitude or frequency during infusion of UFP-101. Therefore, we conclude that OFQ mediates, at least in part, the negative feedback action of P on GnRH/LH pulse frequency in sheep.
Project description:The introduction of a novel male stimulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis of female sheep during seasonal anestrus, leading to the resumption of follicle maturation and ovulation. How this pheromone cue activates pulsatile secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)/luteinizing hormone (LH) is unknown. We hypothesised that pheromones activate kisspeptin neurons, the product of which is critical for the stimulation of GnRH neurons and fertility. During the non-breeding season, female sheep were exposed to novel males and blood samples collected for analysis of plasma LH profiles. Females without exposure to males served as controls. In addition, one hour before male exposure, a kisspeptin antagonist (P-271) or vehicle was infused into the lateral ventricle and continued for the entire period of male exposure. Introduction of a male led to elevated mean LH levels, due to increased LH pulse amplitude and pulse frequency in females, when compared to females not exposed to a male. Infusion of P-271 abolished this effect of male exposure. Brains were collected after the male effect stimulus and we observed an increase in the percentage of kisspeptin neurons co-expressing Fos, by immunohistochemistry. In addition, the per-cell expression of Kiss1 mRNA was increased in the rostral and mid (but not the caudal) arcuate nucleus (ARC) after male exposure in both aCSF and P-271 treated ewes, but the per-cell content of neurokinin B mRNA was decreased. There was also a generalized increase in Fos positive cells in the rostral and mid ARC as well as the ventromedial hypothalamus of females exposed to males. We conclude that introduction of male sheep to seasonally anestrous female sheep activates kisspeptin neurons and other cells in the hypothalamus, leading to increased GnRH/LH secretion.
Project description:It has been well proved that melatonin participates in the regulation of the seasonal reproduction of ewes. However, the effects of short term treatment of melatonin on ewe's ovulation are still to be clarified. In this study, the effects of melatonin on the number of embryos harvested from superovulation, and the pregnant rate in recipients after embryo transferred have been investigated. Hu sheep with synchronous estrus treatment were given melatonin subcutaneously injection (0, 5, and 10 mg/ewe, respectively). It was found that the estrogen level in the group of 5 mg melatonin was significantly higher than that of other two groups at the time of sperm insemination (p < 0.05). The pregnant rate and number of lambs in the group of 5 mg melatonin treatment was also significantly higher than that of the rests of the groups (P < 0.05). In another study, 31 Suffolk ewes as donors and 103 small-tailed han sheep ewes as recipients were used to produce pronuclear embryo and embryo transfer. Melatonin (5 mg) was given to the donors during estrus. The results showed that, the number of pronuclear embryos and the pregnancy rate were also significantly higher in melatonin group than that in the control group. In addition, 28 donors and 44 recipient ewes were used to produce morula/blastocyst and embryo transferring. Melatonin (5 mg) was given during estrus. The total number of embryos harvested (7.40 ± 1.25/ewe vs. 3.96 ± 0.73/ewe, P < 0.05) and the pregnant rate (72.3 ± 4.6% vs. 54.7 ± 4.0%, P < 0.05) and number of lambs were also increased in melatonin group compared to the control group. Collectively, the results have suggested that melatonin treatment 36 hours after CIDR withdrawal could promote the number and quality of embryos in vivo condition and increased the pregnant rate and number of lambs.