Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)-mediated changes in granulosa cell adhesion and morphology are essential for preovulatory follicle development, given the dramatic changes in follicle size and granulosa cell number that occur during this transition. Members of the Eph-ephrin family of cell-positioning and adhesion molecules, a family that consists of ephrin ligands and their Ephrin (Eph) receptors, regulate cell location, adhesion, and migration during embryonic development and tumor growth. However, very little is known about ephrin signaling during folliculogenesis. We have found that FSH increases the expression of several members of the Eph-ephrin family and that this signaling regulates granulosa cell morphology and adhesion. FSH induced increased mRNA levels of the ephrin ligand, ephrin-A5 (Efna5), and its receptors, Eph receptors A3, A5, and A8 (Epha3, Epha5, and Epha8, respectively), in granulosa cells. Immunofluorescence studies indicated that EFNA5 and EPHA5 are located in the membrane of granulosa cells of developing mouse follicles. Eph-ephrin signaling directly affected granulosa cell morphology and adhesion. Recombinant EFNA5 reduced cell spreading and increased cell rounding in mouse primary granulosa cells and in a rat granulosa cell line, whereas EPHA5 reduced granulosa cell adhesion in both model systems. Both FSH and forskolin also increased Efna5 and Epha5 mRNA levels in rat and human granulosa cell lines, indicating that FSH regulates these genes via the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A pathway and that this regulation is conserved across different species. The present study identifies Eph-ephrin signaling as a novel FSH-mediated pathway regulating granulosa cell morphology and adhesion.
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Vol. 88 • No. 1