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Sustained ERK1/2 signaling is necessary for follicular rupture during ovulation in mice.

Madogwe E, Schuermann Y, Siddappa D, Bordignon V, Roux PP, Duggavathi R

Department of Animal Science, McGill University, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, Canada.

Abolition of the LH-induced ERK1/2 pathway leads to dramatic changes in gene expression in granulosa cells, subsequently abrogating ovulation. Here we explored whether sustained ERK1/2 signaling beyond immediate-early hours of the LH surge is important for ovulation in mice. First, we examined the effect of inhibition of ERK1/2 activity at 4 h after hCG stimulation on ovulation in superovulated immature mice. Treatment with the ERK1/2 pathway inhibitor PD0325901 at 4 h post-hCG disrupted follicular rupture without altering cumulus expansion, oocyte meiotic maturation and luteinization. Profiling the expression pattern of genes of the RSK family of ERK1/2 signal mediators revealed that RSK3, but not other isoforms, was induced by hCG treatment. Further, RSK3-knockout mice were sub-fertile with reduced ovulation rate and smaller litter size compared to WT mice. Given that PD0325901 inhibits all mediators of ERK1/2 signaling, we chose to evaluate the gene expression underlying deficient follicular rupture in ERK1/2 inhibited mice. We found that inhibition of ERK1/2 signaling at 4 h post-hCG resulted in an imbalance in the expression of genes involved in extracellular matrix degradation and leukocyte infiltration necessary for follicular rupture. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that sustained ERK1/2 signaling during ovulation is not required for cumulus expansion, oocyte meiotic maturation and luteinization, but is required for follicular rupture.

Reproduction 2021;161(2):183-193.

Pubmed ID: 33434153

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