2007 Volume 53 Issue 4 Pages 727-736
More than 99% of follicles undergo a degenerative process known as "atresia" in mammalian ovaries, and only a few follicles ovulate during follicular growth and development. Follicular selection predominantly depends on granulosa cell apoptosis. To reveal the molecular mechanisms of selective follicular atresia, we examined the changes in the levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptors expressed in the granulosa cells of pig ovaries. The levels of IL-6 receptor (IL-6R)-α mRNA and protein in granulosa cells were quantified by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting, respectively. IL-6Rα mRNA and protein were highly expressed in the granulosa cells of progressed atretic follicles. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay showed that the expression of IL-6 soluble receptor (IL-6sR) protein in follicular fluid decreased during atresia. Moreover, we isolated porcine cDNA encoding an IL-6 signal transducer, gp130. Porcine gp130 (2,754 bp and 917 amino acids) was identified from a cDNA library prepared using follicular granulosa cells of pig ovaries. Porcine gp130 was highly homologous with human and murine gp130. RT-PCR analysis revealed that the level of gp130 mRNA also decreased during atresia. We presume that IL-6sR and gp130, but not IL-6Rα, play important roles in regulation of granulosa cell survival.