A prolific allele named FecL(L) is known to segregate in the meat breed of the French Lacaune sheep on the basis of ovulation rate record. To gain more knowledge about the physiological effects of FecL(L), ewes homozygous for FecL(L) (L/L) were compared to wild-type ewes (+/+) for ovarian phenotype and reproductive endocrine profiles. At the ovarian level, the increased ovulation rate in L/L ewes was associated with an increased number of antral follicles of greater than 3 mm and with preovulatory follicles being, on average, 1 mm smaller. Intrafollicular estradiol and testosterone concentrations were not significantly different between the two genotypes. In contrast, L/L large follicles (>or=6 mm) had lower intrafollicular progesterone concentration. At the molecular level, expressions of ovarian markers, such as CYP19A1, CYP11A1, CYP17A1, LHR, and INHA, were not significantly different between the two genotypes. In contrast, FSHR and STAR mRNA levels increased in granulosa cells from L/L ewes. Plasma concentrations of estradiol, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and progesterone measured across a synchronized estrous cycle revealed a significant increase in estradiol levels during the follicular phase, a precocious LH surge, and an increase in progesterone level during the luteal phase of L/L ewes compared to +/+ ewes. Circulating concentrations of FSH were not different between the two genotypes. The precocious LH surge was associated with an increase in frequency of LH pulsatility during the follicular phase. At the pituitary level, mRNA levels for LHB, FSHB, GNRHR, and ESR1 were not significantly different between the two genotypes. In contrast, ESR2 mRNA expression was decreased in L/L ewes compared to +/+ ewes. Based on ovarian phenotype and endocrine profiles, these findings suggest that the mutation in the FecL gene affects ovarian function in a different way compared to other known prolific mutations affecting the bone morphogenetic protein signaling system in the ovine species.
Biology of Reproduction 05/2010; 82(5):815-24. DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.109.082065 · 3.45 Impact Factor