Meiotic arrest and resumption in mammalian oocytes are regulated by 2 opposing signaling proteins in the cells of the surrounding follicle: the guanylyl cyclase natriuretic peptide receptor 2 (NPR2), and the luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR). NPR2 maintains a meiosis-inhibitory level of cyclic guanosine 5'-monophosphate (cGMP) until LHR signaling causes dephosphorylation of NPR2, reducing NPR2 activity, lowering cGMP to a level that releases meiotic arrest. However, the signaling pathway between LHR activation and NPR2 dephosphorylation remains incompletely understood, due in part to imprecise information about the cellular localization of these 2 proteins. To investigate their localization, we generated mouse lines in which hemagglutinin epitope tags were added to the endogenous LHR and NPR2 proteins, and used immunofluorescence and immunogold microscopy to localize these proteins with high resolution. The results showed that the LHR protein is absent from the cumulus cells and inner mural granulosa cells, and is present in only 13% to 48% of the outer mural granulosa cells. In contrast, NPR2 is present throughout the follicle, and is more concentrated in the cumulus cells. Less than 20% of the NPR2 is in the same cells that express the LHR. These results suggest that to account for the LH-induced inactivation of NPR2, LHR-expressing cells send a signal that inactivates NPR2 in neighboring cells that do not express the LHR. An inhibitor of gap junction permeability attenuates the LH-induced cGMP decrease in the outer mural granulosa cells, consistent with this mechanism contributing to how NPR2 is inactivated in cells that do not express the LHR.
Keywords: LH receptor; cyclic GMP; gap junctions; natriuretic peptide receptor 2; ovarian follicle.
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