Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are instrumental in the constant tissue remodeling in the ovary. An induction of MMP-19 mRNA in periovulatory follicles has been reported in mouse ovaries. However, little is known about MMP-19 expression during the follicular and luteal periods or about the ovarian regulation of MMP-19 mRNA expression. We examined the expression pattern of MMP-19 mRNA during various reproductive phases and the periovulatory regulation of MMP-19 mRNA in the rat ovary. In gonadotropin-primed, immature rat ovaries, levels of MMP-19 mRNA transiently increased during both follicular growth and ovulation. The MMP-19 mRNA was localized to the theca-interstitial layer of growing follicles and to the granulosa and theca-interstitial layers of periovulatory follicles. A similar expression pattern of MMP-19 mRNA in periovulatory follicles was observed in ovaries from naturally cycling adult rats. Accumulation of MMP-19 mRNA was detected in regressing corpus luteum. The regulation of MMP-19 mRNA expression during the periovulatory period was investigated via in vivo studies and through in vitro culture studies on follicular cells. The hCG-induction of MMP-19 mRNA was mimicked by treating granulosa cells, but not theca-interstitial cells, from preovulatory follicles with LH or activators of the protein kinase (PK) A or PKC pathways. Cycloheximide blocked the LH- or forskolin-induced MMP-19 mRNA expression, demonstrating the requirement for new protein synthesis. In contrast, blocking activation of the progesterone receptor or prostaglandin synthesis had no effect on the increase in MMP-19 mRNA expression. In conclusion, the induction of MMP-19 mRNA suggests an important role of this proteinase during follicular growth, ovulation, and luteal regression.
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