The circulating concentrations of progesterone, FSH, and follistatin across the estrous cycle and gestation were compared in Australian merino sheep that were homozygous for the Booroola gene, FecB, or were noncarriers. The Booroola phenotype is due to a point mutation in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor 1B. Progesterone concentrations began to rise earlier and were higher in the Booroola ewes than in the noncarriers on most days of the luteal phase but not during the follicular phase of the cycle. Follistatin concentrations remained unchanged across the estrous cycle in both groups of ewes, with no differences between genotypes. FSH concentrations were higher in Booroola ewes than in noncarrier ewes on most days of the estrous cycle, with a significantly higher and broader peak of FSH around the time of estrus. Progesterone concentrations were significantly higher in early and midgestation in Booroola ewes but were lower toward the end of gestation than those in noncarriers. FSH declined in both groups across gestation, with lower concentrations of FSH in Booroola ewes during midgestation. Follistatin remained unchanged across gestation in Booroola ewes and noncarrier ewes with a twin pregnancy but declined across gestation in noncarrier ewes with a singleton pregnancy. These results suggest that follistatin concentration is not regulated by the FecB gene during the estrous cycle and pregnancy but is influenced by the number of fetuses. However, the FecB gene appears to positively affect both progesterone and FSH during the estrous cycle and across pregnancy, which suggests that bone morphogenetic proteins play an important role in the regulation of both hormones.
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