The luteinizing hormone (LH) surge initiates a cascade of proteolytic events that control ovulation. One of the genes induced by LH is the progesterone receptor (PR). Because mice with a mutant PR gene (PRKO) fail to ovulate and are infertile, we have used them as a model in which to determine PR target genes that might mediate the ovulatory process. The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs: MMP2, MMP9, and MMP13) appear to be expressed in ovaries of PRKO mice in a manner similar to that in their wild-type littermates. However, the expression of two other types of proteases, cathepsin L (a member of the papain family) and ADAMTS-1 (A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase with Thrombospondin-like motifs), are selectively induced in granulosa cells of preovulatory follicles by the LH surge. Maximal levels of these proteases are observed at 12-16 h after an LH surge, the time of ovulation. Furthermore, mRNAs encoding cathepsin L and ADAMTS-1 are reduced in the PRKO mice compared to their wild-type littermates. These novel observations indicate that these two proteases regulate some key step(s) controlling ovulation. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
- Cathepsin L