The anterior pituitary-derived hormone prolactin (PRL) signals through the PRL receptor (PRLR) and is important for female reproductive function in mammals. In contrast to the extensive studies of PRLR expression and regulation in human and mouse ovary and uterus, the mechanisms controlling the regulation of PRLR isoform expression in the fallopian tube are poorly understood. Because dynamic interaction of hormonal signaling in gonadal tissue and the pituitary or in gonadal tissues themselves in mammals suggests endocrine or paracrine regulation of PRLR expression, we questioned whether differential regulation of PRLR isoforms by PRL ovarian-derived estrogen (E2) and progesterone (P4) exists in the fallopian tube and pituitary of prepubertal female mice. Western blot analysis showed distinct molecular separation of PRLR isoforms in mouse and human fallopian tubes, and cellular localization was found in mouse and human tubal epithelia but not in mouse tubal smooth muscle cells. These data support the concept of an isoform- and cell type-specific expression of PRLR in human and mouse fallopian tubes. Moreover, expression of the long form of PRLR decreased after PRL treatment and increased after blockage of endogenous PRL secretion by bromocriptine (an inhibitor of PRL secretion) in a time-dependent manner in mouse fallopian tube. The opposite regulation was observed in the pituitary. Treatment with exogenous E2 or P4 led to changes in PRLR expression in the fallopian tube similar to those of PRL treatment. However, E2 and P4 did not affect PRLR expression in the pituitary. Estrogen had no effect on the long form of PRLR expression, whereas P4 regulated the long form of PRLR in the fallopian tube, as did PRL. Taken together, the data from our comparative study provide evidence that PRLR can be regulated by an interplay of two different mechanisms, PRL or ovarian steroid hormones independently or in combination in a tissue-specific manner. Furthermore, we found that ovarian steroid hormones selectively suppress the expression of PRLR isoforms in mouse fallopian tubes. These findings may contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms controlling PRLR isoform expression in the fallopian tube (in addition to ovary and uterus), with implications for female reproduction.
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Vol. 79 • No. 4