Calcitonin (CALCA), a hormone primarily known for its role in calcium homeostasis, has recently been linked to reproduction, specifically as a marker for embryo implantation in the uterus. Although CALCA expression has been documented in several tissues, there has been no report of production of CALCA in the ovary of any vertebrate species. We hypothesized that the Calca gene is expressed in the chicken ovary, and its expression will be altered by follicular maturation or gonadal steroid administration. Using RT-PCR, we detected Calca mRNA and the calcitonin receptor (Calcr) mRNA in the granulosa and theca layers of preovulatory and prehierarchial follicles. Both CALCA and Calca mRNA were localized in granulosa and thecal cells by confocal microscopy. Using quantitative PCR analysis, F1 follicle granulosa layer was found to contain significantly greater Calca mRNA and Calcr mRNA levels compared with those of any other preovulatory or prehierarchial follicle. The granulosa layer contained relatively greater Calca and Calcr mRNA levels compared with the thecal layer in both prehierarchial and preovulatory follicles. Progesterone (P4) treatment of sexually immature chickens resulted in a significantly greater abundance of ovarian Calca mRNA, whereas estradiol (E2) or P4 E2 treatment significantly reduced ovarian Calca mRNA quantity. Treatment of prehierarchial follicular granulosa cells in vitro with CALCA significantly decreased FSH-stimulated cellular viability. Collectively, our results indicate that follicular maturation and gonadal steroids influence Calca and Calcr gene expression in the chicken ovary. We conclude that ovarian CALCA is possibly involved in regulating follicular maturation in the chicken ovary.
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Vol. 77 • No. 4