Author(s): Patel H, Bhartiya D, Parte S, Gunjal P, Yedurkar S,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: We have earlier reported that follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) modulates ovarian stem cells which include pluripotent, very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) and their immediate descendants 'progenitors' termed ovarian germ stem cells (OGSCs), lodged in adult mammalian ovarian surface epithelium (OSE). FSH may exert pleiotropic actions through its alternatively spliced receptor isoforms. Four isoforms of FSH receptors (FSHR) are reported in literature of which FSH-R1 and FSH-R3 have biological activity. Present study was undertaken to identify FSHR isoforms mediating FSH action on ovarian stem cells, using sheep OSE cells culture as the study model. METHODS: Cultures of sheep OSE cells (a mix of epithelial cells, VSELs, OGSCs and few contaminating red blood cells) were established with and without FSH 5IU/ml treatment. Effect of FSH treatment on self-renewal of VSELs and their differentiation into OGSCs was studied after 15 hrs by qRT-PCR using markers specific for VSELs (Oct-4A, Sox-2) and OGSCs (Oct-4). FSH receptors and its specific transcripts (R1 and R3) were studied after 3 and 15 hrs of FSH treatment by immunolocalization, in situ hybridization and qRT-PCR. FSHR and OCT-4 were also immuno-localized on sheep ovarian sections, in vitro matured follicles and early embryos. RESULTS: FSH treatment resulted in increased stem cells self-renewal and clonal expansion evident by the appearance of stem cell clusters. FSH receptors were expressed on ovarian stem cells whereas the epithelial cells were distinctly negative. An increase in R3 mRNA transcripts was noted after 3 hrs of FSH treatment and was reduced to basal levels by 15 hrs, whereas R1 transcript expression remained unaffected. Both FSHR and OCT-4 were immuno-localized in nuclei of stem cells, showed nuclear or ooplasmic localization in oocytes of primordial follicles and in cytoplasm of granulosa cells in growing follicles. CONCLUSIONS: FSH modulates ovarian stem cells via FSH-R3 to undergo potential self-renewal, clonal expansion as 'cysts' and differentiation into oocytes. OCT-4 and FSHR proteins (required initially to maintain pluripotent state of VSELs and for FSH action respectively) gradually shift from nuclei to cytoplasm of developing oocytes and are later possibly removed by surrounding granulosa cells as the oocyte prepares itself for fertilization.
This article was published in J Ovarian Res
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy