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      Oocyte–somatic cell interactions in the human ovary—novel role of bone morphogenetic proteins and growth differentiation factors


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          Initially identified for their capability to induce heterotopic bone formation, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are multifunctional growth factors that belong to the transforming growth factor β superfamily. Using cellular and molecular genetic approaches, recent studies have implicated intra-ovarian BMPs as potent regulators of ovarian follicular function. The bi-directional communication of oocytes and the surrounding somatic cells is mandatory for normal follicle development and oocyte maturation. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the physiological role and molecular determinants of these ovarian regulatory factors within the human germline-somatic regulatory loop.


          The regulation of ovarian function remains poorly characterized in humans because, while the fundamental process of follicular development and oocyte maturation is highly similar across species, most information on the regulation of ovarian function is obtained from studies using rodent models. Thus, this review focuses on the studies that used human biological materials to gain knowledge about human ovarian biology and disorders and to develop strategies for preventing, diagnosing and treating these abnormalities.


          Relevant English-language publications describing the roles of BMPs or growth differentiation factors (GDFs) in human ovarian biology and phenotypes were comprehensively searched using PubMed and the Google Scholar database. The publications included those published since the initial identification of BMPs in the mammalian ovary in 1999 through July 2016.


          Studies using human biological materials have revealed the expression of BMPs, GDFs and their putative receptors as well as their molecular signaling in the fundamental cells (oocyte, cumulus/granulosa cells (GCs) and theca/stroma cells) of the ovarian follicles throughout follicle development. With the availability of recombinant human BMPs/GDFs and the development of immortalized human cell lines, functional studies have demonstrated the physiological role of intra-ovarian BMPs/GDFs in all aspects of ovarian functions, from follicle development to steroidogenesis, cell–cell communication, oocyte maturation, ovulation and luteal function. Furthermore, there is crosstalk between these potent ovarian regulators and the endocrine signaling system. Dysregulation or naturally occurring mutations within the BMP system may lead to several female reproductive diseases. The latest development of recombinant BMPs, synthetic BMP inhibitors, gene therapy and tools for BMP-ligand sequestration has made the BMP pathway a potential therapeutic target in certain human fertility disorders; however, further clinical trials are needed. Recent studies have indicated that GDF8 is an intra-ovarian factor that may play a novel role in regulating ovarian functions in the human ovary.


          Intra-ovarian BMPs/GDFs are critical regulators of folliculogenesis and human ovarian functions. Any dysregulation or variations in these ligands or their receptors may affect the related intracellular signaling and influence ovarian functions, which accounts for several reproductive pathologies and infertility. Understanding the normal and pathological roles of intra-ovarian BMPs/GDFs, especially as related to GC functions and follicular fluid levels, will inform innovative approaches to fertility regulation and improve the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian disorders.

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          TGF-beta signal transduction.

          The transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) family of growth factors control the development and homeostasis of most tissues in metazoan organisms. Work over the past few years has led to the elucidation of a TGF-beta signal transduction network. This network involves receptor serine/threonine kinases at the cell surface and their substrates, the SMAD proteins, which move into the nucleus, where they activate target gene transcription in association with DNA-binding partners. Distinct repertoires of receptors, SMAD proteins, and DNA-binding partners seemingly underlie, in a cell-specific manner, the multifunctional nature of TGF-beta and related factors. Mutations in these pathways are the cause of various forms of human cancer and developmental disorders.
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            A mutation creating a potential illegitimate microRNA target site in the myostatin gene affects muscularity in sheep.

            Texel sheep are renowned for their exceptional meatiness. To identify the genes underlying this economically important feature, we performed a whole-genome scan in a Romanov x Texel F2 population. We mapped a quantitative trait locus with a major effect on muscle mass to chromosome 2 and subsequently fine-mapped it to a chromosome interval encompassing the myostatin (GDF8) gene. We herein demonstrate that the GDF8 allele of Texel sheep is characterized by a G to A transition in the 3' UTR that creates a target site for mir1 and mir206, microRNAs (miRNAs) that are highly expressed in skeletal muscle. This causes translational inhibition of the myostatin gene and hence contributes to the muscular hypertrophy of Texel sheep. Analysis of SNP databases for humans and mice demonstrates that mutations creating or destroying putative miRNA target sites are abundant and might be important effectors of phenotypic variation.
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              Double muscling in cattle due to mutations in the myostatin gene.

              Myostatin (GDF-8) is a member of the transforming growth factor beta superfamily of secreted growth and differentiation factors that is essential for proper regulation of skeletal muscle mass in mice. Here we report the myostatin sequences of nine other vertebrate species and the identification of mutations in the coding sequence of bovine myostatin in two breeds of double-muscled cattle, Belgian Blue and Piedmontese, which are known to have an increase in muscle mass relative to conventional cattle. The Belgian Blue myostatin sequence contains an 11-nucleotide deletion in the third exon which causes a frameshift that eliminates virtually all of the mature, active region of the molecule. The Piedmontese myostatin sequence contains a missense mutation in exon 3, resulting in a substitution of tyrosine for an invariant cysteine in the mature region of the protein. The similarity in phenotypes of double-muscled cattle and myostatin null mice suggests that myostatin performs the same biological function in these two species and is a potentially useful target for genetic manipulation in other farm animals.

                Author and article information

                Hum Reprod Update
                Hum. Reprod. Update
                Human Reproduction Update
                Oxford University Press
                January 2017
                14 December 2016
                14 December 2016
                : 23
                : 1
                : 1-18
                [1 ]Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Center for Reproductive Medicine, Peking University Third Hospital, 49 North Garden Rd., Haidian District, Beijing 100191, P.R. China
                [2 ]Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia , Room 317, 950 West 28 th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, CanadaV5Z 4H4
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence address. Peter C.K. Leung, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Tel: +1-604-875-2361; Fax: +1-604-875-2717; E-mail: peter.leung@ 123456ubc.ca ; Jie Qiao, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Center for Reproductive Medicine, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, P.R. China. E-mail: jie.qiao@ 123456263.net
                © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@ 123456oup.com

                Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research;
                Award ID: #143317
                Funded by: Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics;
                Funded by: National Natural Science Foundation of Key Program;
                Award ID: #31230047
                Custom metadata
                January/February 2017

                Human biology
                bone morphogenetic proteins,growth differentiation factors,activin receptor like-kinase,human ovary,human granulosa cells,human granulosa cell line,female infertility


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