The establishment of the primordial follicle pool is crucial for fertility in mammalian females, and the interruption of overall micro-RNA production by Dicer1 conditional knockout in the female reproductive system results in infertility. However, there are few reports about the functions of individual micro-RNA in regulating primordial follicle assembly. The present study aimed to investigate the function of miR-125b, which is conserved and preferentially expressed in mammalian ovary during primordial follicle assembly. Detection of miR-125b in the developing mouse ovaries by real-time PCR and in situ hybridization showed that it was highly expressed perinatally and specifically located in the ovarian somatic cells. MiR-125b overexpression blocked the process of primordial follicle assembly in cultured newborn mouse ovaries, while its knockdown promoted this process. Further studies showed that miR-125b regulated the activin/Smad2 signaling in neonatal mouse ovary by directly targeting the 3′-untranslated region of activin receptor type 2a (Acvr2a). Overexpression of miR-125b in neonatal mouse ovary suppressed the Acvr2a protein level, attenuating activin/Smad2 signaling, while knockdown of miR-125b showed the opposite effects. In addition, recombinant human activin A (rh-ActA) down-regulated miR-125b in the neonatal mouse ovary. Overexpression of miR-125b attenuated the promoting effects of rh-ActA on primordial follicle assembly. Taken together, these data suggest that miR-125b blocks the process of primordial follicle assembly, and miR-125b may play this role by regulating the expression of Acvr2a in the activin/Smad2 signaling pathway.
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Vol. 94 • No. 4