Both LH and FSH play a central role in controlling ovarian function in mammals. However, little is known about the type of ovarian cells that are responsive to LH and FSH in marsupials. We determined, using in situ hybridization, the localization of mRNA encoding the receptors (R) for LH and FSH in ovaries of brushtail possums. The mRNA encoding FSH-R was observed in granulosa cells of healthy follicles containing at least two complete layers of cells. The mRNA encoding LH-R was first observed in granulosa cells at the time of antrum formation. Cells of the theca interna expressed LH-R mRNA but not FSH-R mRNA. Neither FSH-R nor LH-R mRNA was detected in atretic follicles. Both FSH-R and LH-R mRNAs were observed in luteal tissue, but only LH-R mRNA was observed in interstitial cells. Granulosa cells from follicles of various sizes (0.5 to >2 mm in diameter) responded to LH and FSH treatment with an increase in cAMP synthesis. In contrast, luteal tissue did not respond to either FSH or LH treatment. In conclusion, expression of FSH-R in the brushtail possum ovary was similar to that observed in many eutherian mammals. However, active LH-R was expressed in granulosa cells much earlier in follicular development than has been previously observed. In addition, although mRNAs for both FSH-R and LH-R were observed, neither FSH nor LH treatment stimulated cAMP synthesis in luteal tissue.
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