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Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E

Relaxin family peptide receptors Rxfp1 and Rxfp2: mapping of the mRNA and protein distribution in the reproductive tract of the male rat.


PMID 17623071

Abstract

Relaxin is the endogenous ligand of the G-protein coupled receptor RXFP1, previously known as LGR7. In humans relaxin can also activate, but with lower affinity, the closely related receptor for the insulin-like peptide from Leydig cells, RXFP2, previously known as LGR8. The lack of relaxin impairs male fertility but the precise distribution and the function of relaxin receptors in the male reproductive tract is not known. We investigated the distribution of Rxfp1 and Rxfp2 in the reproductive tract of the male rat and the function of relaxin in the vas deferens, a tissue with high expression of both receptors. The presence of mRNA for Rxfp1 and Rxfp2 was investigated in testes, cultured Sertoli cells, epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicle, prostate, and spermatozoa by RT-PCR and Southern blot. Protein expression in the testis, vas deferens, primary culture of Sertoli cells, and spermatozoa was assessed by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence. The role of relaxin in the vas deferens was evaluated by contractility studies and radioimmunoassay of cAMP production. The effect of relaxin on mRNA levels for metalloproteinase-7 was measured by Northern blot. Transcripts for Rxfp1 and Rxfp2 were present in almost all parts of the male reproductive tract, with high levels in testis and vas deferens. Both receptors were immunolocalized in late stage germ cells but not in mature spermatozoa, although mRNAs for both receptors were also present in mature spermatozoa. Rxfp1 but not Rxfp2 was detected in cultured Sertoli cells. Strong immunostaining for Rxfp1 and Rxfp2 was seen in muscular and epithelial layers of the vas deferens and in arteriolar walls. Relaxin did not affect contractility and cyclic AMP production of the vas deferens, but increased the levels of mRNA for metalloproteinase-7. Rxfp1 and Rxfp2 are widely and similarly distributed throughout the male reproductive tract. Our results suggest that Rxfp1 on spermatids and Sertoli cells may be important in spermatogenesis. Relaxin in the vas deferens does not affect contractility, but may affect vascular compliance and collagen and matrix remodeling.