Oocytes secrete factors that regulate the development of the surrounding granulosa cells in ovarian follicles. KIT ligand (KL) mRNA expression in granulosa cells is thought to be regulated by oocytes; however, the factor(s) that mediate this effect are not known. One candidate is the oocyte-specific gene product growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9). This study examined the effect of recombinant GDF-9 (rGDF-9) on steady-state KL mRNA expression levels in preantral and mural granulosa cells in vitro. Furthermore, the study compared the effect of rGDF-9 with that of coculture with oocytes at different developmental stages. As determined by RNase protection assay, both KL-1 and KL-2 mRNA levels in preantral and mural granulosa cells were suppressed by 25–250 ng/ml rGDF-9. Fully grown oocytes also suppressed both KL-1 and KL-2 mRNA expression levels. Partly grown oocytes isolated from 7-, 10-, or 12-day-old mice either had no effect on KL mRNA levels or promoted KL-1 mRNA steady-state expression. It is concluded that GDF-9 is likely to mediate the action of fully grown, but not partly grown, oocytes on granulosa cell KL mRNA expression.
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