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1 December 2000 Gap Junction Communication and Connexin 43 Gene Expression in a Rat Granulosa Cell Line: Regulation by Follicle-Stimulating Hormone
Britta Sommersberg, Andreas Bulling, Ulrich Salzer, Ulrike Fröhlich, Robert E. Garfield, Abraham Amsterdam, Artur Mayerhofer
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Abstract

Follicle-stimulating hormone is the major regulator of growth and development of antral follicles in the ovary. Granulosa cells (GCs) in these follicles are coupled via gap junctions (GJs) consisting of connexin 43 (Cx 43). Because we and others have found that Cx 43 and GJs, respectively, are more abundant in large antral follicles compared with small antral and preantral follicles, we hypothesized that FSH may control Cx 43 gene expression, GJ formation, and intercellular communication. To directly address these points, we chose a rat GC line (GFSHR-17) expressing the FSH receptor and the Cx 43 gene. The functionality of FSH receptors was shown by the effects of porcine FSH, namely cell rounding, reduced cellular proliferation, and stimulation of progesterone production of GFSHR-17 cells, which are effects that were detectable within hours. Treatment with FSH also statistically significantly increased Cx 43 mRNA levels, as shown after 6 to 9 h in Northern blots. These effects were antedated by altered GJ communication, which was observed within seconds. Using a single-cell/whole-cell patch clamp technique, we showed that FSH rapidly and reversibly enhanced electrical cell coupling of GFSHR-17 cells. Increased GJ communication was associated with statistically significantly decreased phosphorylation of Cx 43, which was observed within 10 min after FSH addition, during immunoprecipitation experiments. Our results demonstrate, to our knowledge for the first time, that the gonadotropin FSH acutely and directly stimulates intercellular communication of GFSHR-17 cells through existing GJs. Moreover, FSH also increases levels of Cx 43 mRNA. These changes are associated with reduced proliferation and enhanced differentiation of GFSHR-17 cells. In vivo factors in addition to FSH may be involved in the regulation of GJ/GJ communication between GCs in the follicle, but our results suggest that improved cell-to-cell coupling, enhanced Cx 43 gene expression, and possibly, formation of new GJs are direct consequences of FSH receptor activation and may antedate and/or initiate the pivotal effects of FSH on GCs.

Britta Sommersberg, Andreas Bulling, Ulrich Salzer, Ulrike Fröhlich, Robert E. Garfield, Abraham Amsterdam, and Artur Mayerhofer "Gap Junction Communication and Connexin 43 Gene Expression in a Rat Granulosa Cell Line: Regulation by Follicle-Stimulating Hormone," Biology of Reproduction 63(6), 1661-1668, (1 December 2000). https://doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod63.6.1661
Received: 14 February 2000; Accepted: 1 July 2000; Published: 1 December 2000
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KEYWORDS
follicular development
FSH
granulosa cells
ovary
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