The expression and localization of gap junction family proteins (connexins) were examined in nonstimulated and gonadotrophin-stimulated ovarian follicles of immature rats. Immunoblot and RNA blot analysis showed the presence of connexin (Cx) 43, Cx40 and Cx45 in ovarian tissue. Of these connexin proteins, Cx43 and Cx45 were identified by immunofluorescent microscopy between granulosa cells in characteristic expression patterns related to follicular developmental stages, while Cx40 was not expressed in granulosa cells but was detected in blood vessels in ovarian stroma. In some plaques of gap junction between granulosa cells, Cx45 was found to be colocalized with Cx43. In immunofluorescent microscopy, the expression of Cx43 was increased with follicular growth, but decreased after induction of ovulation by injection of human chorionic gonadotrophin. In contrast, the Cx45 protein was constantly expressed through follicular development; however, after ovulation, no staining of Cx45 was detected in the corpus luteum. Dual expression and the functional role of Cx43 and Cx45 in cell-to-cell communication in ovarian granulosa cells at various developmental stages were discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- Developmental Biology