Journal of animal science

Evidence that gene expression of ovarian follicular tight junction proteins is regulated in vivo and in vitro in cattle.

PMID 28380519


Tight junctions (TJ) are common paracellular sealing structures that control the transport of water, ions, and macromolecules across cell layers. Because the role of TJ in bovine follicular development is unknown, we investigated the developmental and hormonal regulation of the transmembrane TJ protein, occludin (OCLN), and the cytoplasmic TJ proteins, TJ protein 1 (TJP1) and cingulin (CGN) in bovine granulosa cells (GC) and theca cells (TC). For this purpose, bovine GC and TC were isolated from large (>8 mm) and/or small (1 to 5 mm) follicles and either extracted for real-time PCR (qPCR) or cultured in vitro. The abundances of both and mRNA were greater ( < 0.05) in TC than GC, whereas the mRNA abundance was greater ( < 0.05) in GC than TC. The abundance of mRNA in both GC and TC was greater ( < 0.05) in small follicles compared with large follicles, whereas the GC of large follicles had less ( < 0.05) mRNA abundance than the GC of small follicles. The abundance of mRNA in GC or TC did not differ ( > 0.10) among follicle sizes. In vitro treatment with various growth factors known to affect ovarian folliculogenesis indicated that , , and were hormonally regulated. Fibroblast growth factor 9 (FGF9) decreased ( < 0.05) the and mRNA abundances. Tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) increased ( < 0.05) the mRNA abundance but decreased ( < 0.05) the mRNA abundance. Dexamethasone (DEX) increased ( < 0.05) and mRNA abundances. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) decreased ( < 0.05) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) increased ( < 0.05) the abundances of , , and mRNA. We propose that the downregulation of OCLN and other TJ proteins during follicular development could reduce barrier function, thereby participating in increasing follicle size by allowing for an increase in the volume of follicular fluid as well as by allowing additional serum factors into the follicular fluid that potentially may directly impact GC functions. The results of the current study indicate the following in cattle: 1) gene expression of TJ proteins (i.e., , , and ) differs between GC and TC and changes with follicle size, and 2) autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine regulators, such as FGF9, EGF, DHT, TNFα, and glucocorticoids, modulate , , and mRNA abundance in TC in vitro.