Prostaglandin (PG) E2 is synthesized from arachidonic acid by cyclooxygenase (COX) and acts as a regulator in ovulation and fertilization reactions. We present the temporal and regional expression patterns of mRNAs for the two Gs-coupled PGE receptors, EP2 and EP4, and for COX-1 and COX-2 in mouse periovulatory follicles and oviducts during superovulation. Analysis using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction revealed that the mouse ovaries express a significant amount of EP4 mRNA in addition to EP2 mRNA during superovulation. In situ hybridization results revealed that the signals for EP4 mRNA were localized mostly to oocytes in the preantral follicles. Three hours after hCG injection, the signals for EP4 and EP2 mRNA were present in both granulosa and cumulus cells. However, 9 h after hCG injection, just before ovulation, the signals for EP4 mRNA were still detectable in both cell types, whereas those for EP2 mRNA were found only in cumulus cells. COX-2 mRNA expression was present in both granulosa and cumulus cells at 3 h but was present only in cumulus cells at 9 h. COX-1 mRNA expression was not found in granulosa cells at 3 h but was found in these cells at 9 h. In the oviduct, the expression of EP4 and COX-1 mRNA was localized to epithelial cells, whereas expression of EP2 mRNA was localized to the smooth muscle layer. The tightly regulated expression of both EP2 and EP4 in the preovulatory follicles may reflect the essential role of PGE2 in the ovulation process.
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