Mammalian proprotein convertases (PCs) play an important role in folliculogenesis, as they proteolytically activate a variety of substrates such as the transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) superfamily. PC subtilism/kexin 6 (PCSK6) is a member of the PC family and is ubiquitously expressed and implicated in many physiological and pathological processes. However, in human granulosa cells, the expression of the PC family members, their hormonal regulation, and the function of PCs are not clear. In this study, we found that PCSK6 is the most highly expressed PC family member in granulosa cells. LH increased PCSK6 mRNA level and PCSK6 played an anti-apoptosis function in KGN cells. Knockdown of PCSK6 not only increased the secretion of activin A and TGFβ2 but also decreased the secretion of follistatin, estrogen, and the mRNA levels of FSH receptor (FSHR) and P450AROM (CYP19A1). We also found that, in the KGN human granulosa cell line, TGFβ2 and activin A could promote the apoptosis of KGN cells and LH could regulate the follistatin level. These data indicate that PCSK6, which is regulated by LH, is highly expressed in human primary granulosa cells of pre-ovulatory follicles and plays important roles in regulating a series of downstream molecules and apoptosis of KGN cells.
Keywords: LH; PCSK6; TGFβ2; activin A; apoptosis; granulosa cells.
© 2014 Society for Endocrinology.