EGF or TGFB1 alone stimulates but together attenuate granulosa cell DNA synthesis. Intact preantral follicles from hamsters were cultured with TGFB1, EGF, or both to reveal the mechanisms of such unique regulation. Follicular CCND2 (also known as cyclin D2), CDKN1B (also known as p27kip1), and the involvement of appropriate signaling intermediaries and kinases were examined. TGFB1, acting via SMAD2 and SMAD3, antagonized the degradation of CCND2 protein by blocking its phosphorylation. In contrast, TGFB1 supported CDKN1B degradation by involving MAPK14 (also known as p38 Map Kinase) and PKC, resulting in CDK4 activation and DNA synthesis. EGF via MAPK3/1 maintained functional levels of CCND2 through CCND2 synthesis as well as degradation. EGF and TGFB1 together inhibited CDK4 activation and DNA synthesis. EGF attenuated TGFB1 stimulated phosphorylation of SMAD3, TGFB1-induced activation of MAPK14 and PKC, and TGFB1 suppression of CCND2 degradation. In contrast, TGFB1 suppressed EGF-induced increase in CCND2 mRNA levels. The final outcome was CCND2 degradation without replenishment and decreased activities of MAPK14 and PKC leading to suppression of CDK4 activation. The results indicate that each growth factor involves a separate mechanism to maintain an effective level of CCND2 in granulosa cells for the activation of CDK4 and induction of DNA synthesis. However, their simultaneous action is inhibitory to follicular DNA synthesis because they counteract each other's activity by interfering at specific sites. Because both EGF and TGFB1 are present in granulosa cells, this mechanism may explain how their effects are temporally modulated for granulosa cell proliferation and folliculogenesis.
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