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RJ Clifton
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L O'Donnell
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DM Robertson
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This study investigates the effects of spermatogenic germ cells on inhibin alpha-subunit and beta B-subunit expression, and inhibin alpha-subunit and inhibin B production by rat Sertoli cells in vitro. Sertoli cells isolated from 19-day-old rats were cultured for 48 h at 32 degrees C, in the presence or absence of FSH (2.3-2350 mIU/ml), and in the presence of pachytene spermatocytes, round spermatids or cytoplasts of elongated spermatids purified from adult rat testis by elutriation and density gradient separation. Sertoli cell secretion of inhibin alpha-subunit and inhibin B, as measured by immunoassay, was dose-dependently stimulated by FSH (maximal stimulation 13- and 2-fold, respectively). Round spermatids or cytoplasts co-cultured with Sertoli cells had no effect on basal or FSH-induced secretion of inhibin alpha-subunit or inhibin B. When Sertoli cells were co-cultured with pachytene spermatocytes, inhibin alpha-subunit secretion was unaltered, while inhibin B secretion was suppressed in a cell concentration-dependent manner to reach a maximal suppression of 45% compared with Sertoli cells alone (P<0.01). A similar suppression in inhibin B was still observed (64% of Sertoli cells alone) when the pachytene spermatocytes were separated from Sertoli cells by a 0.45 microm pore membrane barrier in bicameral chambers. Pachytene spermatocytes also suppressed FSH-induced inhibin B levels in Sertoli cell co-cultures and this suppression was attributed to a decrease in basal inhibin B production rather than a change in FSH responsiveness. Quantitation of Sertoli cell inhibin alpha- and beta B-subunit mRNA by quantitative (real-time) PCR demonstrated that pachytene spermatocytes did not alter Sertoli cell alpha-subunit mRNA expression, but significantly (P<0.01) suppressed basal and FSH-induced beta B-subunit mRNA expression to a similar degree to that seen with inhibin B protein levels. It is concluded that pachytene spermatocytes in vitro suppress Sertoli cell inhibin B secretion via factor-mediated suppression of inhibin beta B-subunit expression. These findings support the hypothesis that specific germ cell types can influence inhibin B secretion by the testis independent of FSH regulation.

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AE Drummond
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M Dyson
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E Thean
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NP Groome
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DM Robertson
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JK Findlay
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The contribution of specific follicle populations to dimeric inhibin production and inhibin subunit mRNA expression by the rat ovary has been investigated in two model systems, granulosa cells isolated from 25-day-old diethylstilboestrol (DES)-treated rats and post-natal rat ovaries, dispersed in culture or whole ovaries, using specific two-site immunoassays and 'real time' PCR. Media from FSH-stimulated granulosa cell cultures fractionated by gel filtration and RP-high performance liquid chromatography revealed two predominant peaks of alpha subunit activity which were attributed to alpha subunit and 31 k dimeric inhibin-A. The corresponding inhibin-B levels were low. FSH stimulation did not alter the ratio of inhibin-A:alpha subunit produced by granulosa cells. All three inhibin subunit mRNAs were expressed by granulosa cells, with eight-fold more alpha subunit mRNA relative to either of the beta subunits. Administration of DES to immature rats prior to the isolation of granulosa cells from the ovary led to beta(A) and beta(B) mRNA expression being down-regulated in the absence of any significant change in alpha subunit expression by the granulosa cells. Inhibin-A, -B and -alpha subunit were produced by basal and stimulated cultures of ovarian cells prepared from 4-, 8- and 12-day-old rats, indicating that primary, preantral and antral follicles contribute to total inhibin production. Consistent with these results, follicles within these ovaries expressed all three inhibin subunit mRNAs, with maximal expression observed in the ovaries of 8-day-old rats. The appearance of antral follicles in the ovary at day 12 led to a decline in the mRNA levels of each of the subunits but was most evident for the beta subunits. There was a profound influence of secondary preantral follicles on dimeric inhibin-A production, with FSH stimulation increasing inhibin-A relative to alpha subunit levels in cultures of ovarian cells prepared from 8-day-old rats. Thus, preantral follicles exposed to FSH contribute significantly to beta(A) subunit production by the ovary. In contrast, primary and preantral follicles did not produce inhibin-B in response to FSH stimulation. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) enhanced, in a time-dependent manner, the production of the inhibin forms by ovarian cells in culture, although inhibin-B production was not responsive until day 8. The simultaneous treatment of ovarian cell cultures with FSH and TGF-beta elicited the greatest increases in production of all the inhibin forms. In summary, ovaries of 4-, 8- and 12-day-old rats expressed inhibin subunit mRNAs and produced dimeric inhibin-A and -B and free alpha subunit. Preantral follicles (day-8 ovarian cell cultures) were particularly sensitive to stimulation by FSH and TGF-beta and had a substantial capacity for inhibin production. The production of oestrogen by follicles may be instrumental in regulating inhibin production given that beta subunit mRNA expression was down-regulated by DES. The mechanisms by which inhibin-A and inhibin-B are individually regulated are likely to be similar during the post-natal period, when folliculogenesis is being established, and diverge thereafter, when inhibin-A becomes the predominant form in the fully differentiated ovary.

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K Pratis
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L O'Donnell
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GT Ooi
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PG Stanton
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RI McLachlan
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DM Robertson
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Testosterone is metabolised to the more potent androgen, dihydrotestosterone, by the 5alpha-reductase (5alphaR) enzyme. We previously showed that 5alpha-reduced androgens are important for maintaining androgen action on rat spermatogenesis when testicular testosterone concentrations are reduced. This study investigated expression and activity of the 5alphaR isoforms, type 1 (5alphaR-1) and type 2 (5alphaR-2), in the rat during hormone manipulation in order to understand the factors that regulate the testicular concentration of 5alphaR and testicular 5alpha-reduced androgen biosynthesis. Testicular 5alphaR-1 and 5alphaR-2 mRNA and enzyme activity were measured by real-time PCR and specific enzyme assays respectively. Hormone levels were first suppressed using two models of gonadotrophin suppression: testosterone and oestradiol treatment (LH/testosterone deficiency) or GnRH immunisation (LH/testosterone and FSH deficiency). Hormones were then either restored or suppressed for 6 days by a variety of hormonal treatments. 5alphaR-1 mRNA and enzyme activity increased when testosterone was suppressed, yet restoration of testosterone decreased 5alphaR-1 mRNA and enzyme activity, suggesting that testosterone negatively regulates 5alphaR-1. suppression of FSH decreased 5alphaR-1 mRNA yet FSH administration increased 5alphaR-1 mRNA, but no changes in 5alphaR-1 activity were observed within the 6 day period. In contrast to 5alphaR-1, testosterone did not affect the testicular concentration of 5alphaR-2 mRNA or activity, but there was evidence for modulation of 5alphaR-2 activity by FSH. Measurement of testicular androgens revealed that 5alphaR-1 was primarily responsible for the production of 5alpha-reduced metabolites. It is concluded that the 5alphaR isoforms in rat testis are differentially regulated by testosterone and FSH: testosterone negatively regulated 5alphaR-1 mRNA and enzyme activity but had no affect on 5alphaR-2, whereas FSH positively regulated 5alphaR-1 mRNA and appeared to regulate 5alphaR-2.

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R.G. Forage
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R.W. Brown
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K.J. Oliver
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B.T. Atrache
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P.L. Devine
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G.C. Hudson
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N.H. Goss
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K.C. Bertram
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P. Tolstoshev
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D.M. Robertson
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D.M. de Kretser
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B. Doughton
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H.G. Burger
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J.K. Findlay
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ABSTRACT

Seven Merino–Border Leicester cross–bred ewes were immunized with a purified fusion protein, produced by recombinant DNA methods, of the a subunit of bovine inhibin. Four animals were immunized with the fusion protein alone and three with a conjugate made by coupling the fusion protein to keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) using glutaraldehyde. Each animal received four injections of the fusion protein over 93 days. The animals were synchronized using progestagen sponges and subjected to laparoscopy for the determination of ovulation rates in two consecutive cycles (days 115 and 135). The immunized animals had overall mean ovulation rates for each cycle of 3.4 and 3.4 which was significantly (P < 0.001) above the rates of 1.1 and 1.4 determined for the controls, which had either received no treatment (n=5) or had been immunized with 300 μg KLH (n=4). Analysis of antisera taken on day 115 showed significant fusion protein antibodies and iodinated inhibin–binding capacity in the test but not control groups. Furthermore, antisera to the fusion protein in four out of seven ewes neutralized the inhibin bioactivity of ovine follicular fluid in an in–vitro bioassay. These data demonstrate that neutralization of inhibin can be effected by immunization with bovine inhibin a subunit and that such immunization results in increased ovulation rates as predicted from the biological role of inhibin as a suppressor of FSH.

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