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Roles of intra–ovarian growth factors in regulating follicular steroid production

School of Biological Sciences

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Prof P G Knight Applications accepted all year round

About the Project

The synthesis and secretion of steroids (progesterone, androgens, oestrogens) by developing ovarian follicles is an essential requirement for female fertility, yet the manner in which locally-produced growth factors control steroidogenesis is poorly understood. In this project we will use a variety of in vitro and ex-vivo approaches to explore paracrine interactions between theca cells, granulosa cells and oocytes. In particular we will seek to identify cell-cell interactions regulating androgen production by theca cells and oestrogen production by granulosa cells. Techniques employed include immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, primary cell culture, co-culture, qPCR, RNA interference, immunoassay, western blotting.


Glister C, Kemp CF, Knight PG (2004) Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) ligands and receptors in bovine ovarian follicle cells: actions of BMP-4, -6 and -7 on granulosa cells and differential modulation of Smad-1 phosphorylation by follistatin. Reproduction 127: 239-254

Hirst RC, Abel MH, Wilkins V, Simpson C, Knight PG, Zhang F-P, Huhtaniemi I, Kumar TR and Charlton HM (2004) Influence of mutations affecting gonadotropin production or responsiveness on expression of inhibin subunit mRNA and protein in the mouse ovary Reproduction 128: 43-52

Glister C, Richards SL, Knight PG (2005) Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) -4, -6 and -7 potently suppress basal and LH-induced androgen production by bovine theca interna cells in primary culture: could ovarian hyperandrogenic dysfunction be caused by a defect in thecal BMP signaling? Endocrinology 146:1883-1892

Glister C, Groome NP, Knight PG (2006) Bovine follicle development is associated with divergent changes in activin-A, inhibin-A and follistatin and the relative abundance of different follistatin isoforms in follicular fluid J Endocrinol 188:215-225.

Lovell TM, Knight PG, Gladwell RT (2006) Differential expression of mRNAs encoding the putative inhibin co-receptor betaglycan and activin type-I and type-II receptors in preovulatory and prehierarchical follicles of the laying hen ovary. J Endocrinol 188:241-249

Knight PG and Glister C (2006) TGF-β superfamily members and ovarian follicle development. Reproduction 132: 191-206

Al-Musawi SL, Gladwell RT & Knight PG (2007) Bone morphogenetic protein-6 (BMP-6) enhances gonadotrophin-dependent progesterone and inhibin secretion and expression of mRNA transcripts encoding gonadotrophin receptors and inhibin/activin subunits in chicken granulosa cells. Reproduction 134: 293-306

Ryan KE, Glister C, Lonergan P, Martin F, Knight PG and Evans ACO (2008) Functional significance of the signal transduction pathways Akt and Erk in ovarian follicles: in vitro and in vitro studies in cattle and sheep. Journal of Ovarian Research 1: 2 (14 pages)

Kayani AJ, Glister C, Knight PG (2009) Evidence for an inhibitory role of bone morphogenetic protein(s) in the follicular-luteal transition in cattle. Reproduction 137: 67-78

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