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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A novel role for bone morphogenetic proteins in the synthesis of follicle-stimulating hormone.

FSH is produced in pituitary gonadotropes as an alpha/beta heterodimer, and synthesis of the beta-subunit is the rate-limiting step in overall FSH production. Synthesis of FSHbeta can be regulated by activin and inhibin, both of which are members of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) also belong to the transforming growth factor-beta family and are multifunctional growth factors involved in many aspects of tissue development and morphogenesis, including regulation of FSH action in the ovary. Here we report a novel function for BMP-7 and BMP-6 in regulating FSH synthesis in the pituitary. Using primary pituitary cell cultures derived from transgenic mice that carry the ovine FSHbeta promoter linked to a luciferase reporter gene (oFSHbetaLuc), BMP-7 or BMP-6 was found to stimulate oFSHbetaLuc expression by 6-fold. Transient expression of the oFSHbetaLuc in a transformed gonadotrope cell line, LbetaT2, was induced 4-fold by BMP-7 or BMP-6 treatment. More importantly, BMP-7 and BMP-6 increased endogenous FSH secretion by 10- and 14-fold, respectively, from LbetaT2 cells, demonstrating for the first time that a functional signaling BMP system is present in gonadotropes. Two bioneutralizing antibodies to BMP-7, which cross-react with BMP-6, but not with activin A, decreased basal oFSHbetaLuc expression and FSH secretion from transgenic mouse pituitary cultures by 83-88% and 47-48%, respectively, suggesting an autocrine or paracrine role for BMP-7 or BMP-6 in FSH synthesis. Neither bioneutralizing antibody to activin A or activin B decreased basal oFSHbetaLuc expression or mouse FSH secretion significantly. Dose-dependent inhibition of FSH synthesis by anti-BMP7 was also observed in rat and sheep pituitary cultures. These results combined with the fact that the messenger RNAs for BMP-7 and BMP-6 were detected in mouse pituitaries and LbetaT2 cells indicate that BMP-7 and/or BMP-6 can function as FSH stimulators and may be significant physiological factors maintaining basal FSH expression in vivo.[1]


  1. A novel role for bone morphogenetic proteins in the synthesis of follicle-stimulating hormone. Huang, H.J., Wu, J.C., Su, P., Zhirnov, O., Miller, W.L. Endocrinology (2001) [Pubmed]
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