The aims of these studies were to determine the abilities of antisera against different regions of ovine bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) and growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) to inhibit ovarian follicular activity, estrus (mating), and ovulation in sheep. The 9–15-mer peptides were conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and used to generate antibodies against the flexible N-terminal regions of the mature protein as well as against regions in which dimerization of the protein or interaction with a type 1 BMP or a type 2 TGFB or BMP receptor was predicted to occur. Ewes (n = 10 per treatment group) were vaccinated with KLH or the KLH-BMP15 (n = 9 different peptides) or KLH-GDF9 (n = 10) peptides in Freund adjuvant at five consecutive monthly intervals. Overall, antisera generated against peptides that corresponded to amino acid residues 1–15 of the N-terminus of the BMP15 or GDF9 mature protein or GDF9 amino acid residues 21–34 were the most potent at inhibiting ovulation following primary and single booster vaccination. Several other BMP15 (8/9) or GDF9 (6/10) treatment groups, but not KLH alone, also produced significant reductions in the numbers of animals that ovulated, although 2, 3 or 4 booster vaccinations were required. Anovulation was commonly associated with the inhibition of normal ovarian follicular development and anestrus. The in vitro neutralization studies with IgG from the BMP15 or GDF9 immunized ewes showed that the mean inhibition of BMP15 plus GDF9 stimulation of 3H-thymidine uptake by rat granulosa cells was approximately 70% for animals without corpora lutea (CL), whereas for animals with one to three CL or more than three CL, the inhibition was 24%–33% or 27%–42%, respectively. In summary, these data suggest that reagents that block the biological actions of BMP15 or GDF9 at their N-termini have potential as contraceptives or sterilizing agents.
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Vol. 76 • No. 4