Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) mediates many effects of the midcycle luteinizing hormone (LH) surge within the periovulatory follicle. Differential expression of the four PGE2 (EP) receptors may contribute to the specialized functions of each granulosa cell subpopulation. To determine if EP receptors are differentially expressed in granulosa cells, monkeys received gonadotropins to stimulate ovarian follicular development. Periovulatory events were initiated with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG); granulosa cells and whole ovaries were collected before (0 h) and after (24–36 h) hCG to span the 40-h primate periovulatory interval. EP receptor mRNA and protein levels were quantified in granulosa cell subpopulations. Cumulus cells expressed higher levels of EP2 and EP3 mRNA compared with mural cells 36 h after hCG. Cumulus cell EP2 and EP3 protein levels also increased between 0 and 36 h after hCG. Overall, mural granulosa cells expressed low levels of EP1 protein at 0 h and higher levels 24–36 h after hCG. However, EP1 protein levels were higher in granulosa cells away from the follicle apex compared with apex cells 36 h after hCG. Higher levels of PAI-1 protein were measured in nonapex cells, consistent with a previous study showing EP1-stimulated PAI-1 protein expression in monkey granulosa cells. EP4 protein levels were low in all subpopulations. In summary, cumulus cells likely respond to PGE2 via EP2 and EP3, whereas PGE2 controls rupture of a specific region of the follicle via EP1. Therefore, differential expression of EP receptors may permit each granulosa cell subpopulation to generate a unique response to PGE2 during the process of ovulation.
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Vol. 85 • No. 5