Follicle-stimulating hormone controls the maturation of mammalian ovarian follicles. In excess, it can increase ovulation (egg production). Reported here is a transgenic doxycycline-activated switch, tested in mice, that produced more FSHB subunit (therefore more FSH) and increased ovulation by the simple feeding of doxycycline (Dox). The transgenic switch was expressed selectively in pituitary gonadotropes and was designed to enhance normal expression of FSH when exposed to Dox, but to be regulated by all the hormones that normally control FSH production in vivo. Feeding maximally effective levels of Dox increased overall mRNA for FSHB and serum FSH by over half in males, and Dox treatment more than doubled the normal ovulation rate of female mice for up to 10 reproductive cycles. Lower levels of Dox increased the number of developing embryos by 30%. Ovarian structure and function appeared normal. In summary, gene switch technology and normal FSH regulation were combined to effectively enhance ovulation in mice. Theoretically, the same strategy can be used with any genetic switch to increase ovulation (or any highly conserved physiology) in any mammal.
assisted reproductive technology