The extensive tissue remodeling that occurs during follicular development, ovulatory rupture, and the formation and regression of the corpus luteum (CL) requires local degradation of the extracellular environment by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). This report characterizes the expression pattern of basigin (Bsg), a putative regulator of MMP induction, in the rat ovary. An induced superovulation model (eCG/hCG) was used in immature rats to evaluate Bsg expression profiles in ovaries collected during the follicular phase, the preovulatory period, and the luteal lifespan. Levels of Bsg mRNA were unchanged through follicular growth (0–48 h post-eCG) and increased during postovulatory luteinization (24 and 48 h post-hCG; P < 0.01). Bsg expression persisted into pseudopregnancy (4–8 days post-hCG) and after functional luteal regression (12 days post-hCG). The profile of Bsg expression during regression of the CL was examined using a model of induced luteolysis. Both functional and structural regression was associated with a decline in Bsg expression levels. Bsg mRNA and protein localized to the theca of preovulatory follicles (12 h post-hCG) and formative and functional CL (24 h–8 days post-hCG). Bsg expression profiles in the induced ovulation and CL regression models were similar to observations made in naturally cycling mature rats. In the cycling ovary, Bsg signaling localized to newly forming CL, the theca of preovulatory follicles, and appeared to be lower in CL from previous estrous cycles. A putative regulatory mechanism of Bsg expression was identified using an in vitro model; treatment of cultured granulosa cells with hCG significantly augmented Bsg mRNA expression levels. The processes of ovulation and luteogenesis may be facilitated by Bsg expression and its induction or regulation of the MMPs.
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