The ruminant corpus luteum, in addition to producing progesterone, synthesizes and secretes oxytocin (OT) during the estrous cycle. Secretion of oxytocin occurs by exocytosis of membrane-encapsulated granules of this hormone. Exocytosis of oxytocin involves transport of granules through a cytoskeletal matrix including an actin cortex closely associated with the plasma membrane (PM). Actin filaments crosslinked by various proteins give rise to the structural integrity of the cortex. Myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS), a protein specifically phosphorylated by protein kinase C (PKC), crosslinks actin filaments and anchors the actin network to the inner leaflet of the PM. There is evidence that the intact actin cortex may serve as a barrier, precluding fusion of transport vesicles with the PM. In some secretory cells, phosphorylation of MARCKS has resulted in its translocation from the PM to the cytoplasm with an associated disassembly of the actin cortex. Prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) stimulation of the bovine corpus luteum during the midluteal phase of the estrous cycle activates PKC, which is associated with an increase in OT secretion in vivo and in vitro. Data are presented demonstrating that stimulation of bovine luteal cells with PGF2α on Day 8 of the cycle promotes rapid phosphorylation of MARCKS protein and causes its translocation from the PM to the cytoplasm and concomitant, enhanced exocytosis of OT. These data are consistent with the premise that MARCKS plays a role in the exocytotic process.
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