Jennifer L Juengel

University of Adelaide, Tarndarnya, South Australia, Australia

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Publications (112)371.79 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The antral follicle count (AFC) in cattle is consistent throughout the estrous cycle of individual cows, and cows with a lower AFC have lower fertility. We assessed the AFC at random stages of the estrous cycle, examined the correlation between AFC classifications, and determined the relationship between the most rapid and practical laboratory-based AFC classification (AFC of follicles of ≥2 mm in diameter) and fertility measures in New Zealand lactating dairy cows. Cows detected in estrus (n = 202) or not (n = 239) during the first 4 weeks of the breeding season were subjected to ultrasonography and classified as having a high, medium, or low AFC at the time of scanning (on-site classification). Images from ultrasound scanning were recorded onto video for accurate follicle counting in an imaging laboratory. A strong association (P < 0.05) between the AFC of follicles with a diameter of 2 mm or greater and fertility was observed. Cows with a high AFC had a shorter (P < 0.05) interval from calving to conception by artificial insemination (AI; 82.4 ± 1.6 vs. 87.3 ± 1.2 days) and greater pregnancy rates (PRs; i.e., PR to the first AI [68.1% vs. 45.3%], 6-week PR [81.9% vs. 67.3%], and overall PR [91.3% vs. 79.7%]) than cows with a low AFC. The AFC was positively associated (P < 0.0001) with age. Progesterone concentrations during diestrus were greater (P < 0.05) in high-AFC cows (7.6 ± 0.3 ng/mL) than in low-AFC cows (6.5 ± 0.3 ng/mL), whether these were pregnant (7.7 ± 0.3 ng/mL) or not (6.3 ± 0.2 ng/mL). A rapid on-site scoring system determined that cows classified as having a high AFC had a shorter (P < 0.05) interval from calving to the first AI (76.5 ± 1.7 vs. 82.3 ± 1.9 days) and were more likely to show estrus (P < 0.01; 56.8% vs. 36.4%) and have a CL at the beginning of the breeding season (P < 0.01; 93.4% vs. 79.6%) than cows with a low on-site AFC. Collectively, we have confirmed an association between AFC2 and fertility, and these results support the hypothesis that cows with a greater number of antral follicles are more fertile than cows with a lesser number of follicles. Although the on-site classification was related to resumption of estrous cycles after calving, associations with other fertility measurements could not be observed, highlighting a need for further refinement of the on-site classification system for rapid phenotyping of the AFC.
    Theriogenology 09/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2015.09.026 · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine if single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the leptin receptor (LEPR) gene associated with delayed onset of puberty are associated with changes in other reproductive traits in adult ewes. The ovulation rate of ewes homozygous for the SNPs was ~15% lower (PPLEPR SNPs than their wild-type or heterozygous contemporaries. Partial failure of multiple ovulations was also increased (PLEPR had on average 0.2 fewer lambs at mid-pregnancy and at birth compared with the wild-type or heterozygous ewes (PLEPR were strongly associated with poorer reproductive performance in Davisdale ewes, which is likely to be linked to both a reduced number of ova available for fertilisation and an increased number of ewes failing to become pregnant. Increased partial failure of multiple ovulations in ewes with high ovulation rates (i.e. 3 or greater) may also contribute to the poor reproductive performance.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 02/2015; DOI:10.1071/RD14382 · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A series of experiments was designed to assess the effect of a treatment protocol (U-synch) for inducing oestrus and ovulation out of the breeding season in adult ewes and ewe lambs. The protocol consisted of a 7-day treatment with an intravaginal progesterone-releasing device (IPRD), administration of GnRH at IPRD insertion on Day 0, and equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) and prostaglandin F2α at IPRD removal on Day 7. In Experiment 1, 50 or 100μg GnRH were sufficient to induce ovulation at the beginning of the protocol in 3/9 and 4/9 ewes, respectively; while the resulting proportion of sheep ovulating after the treatment protocol was 88.9% and 77.8% in ewes initially treated with 50 or 100μg GnRH, respectively. In Experiment 2, the proportion of Romney-cross ewe lambs ovulating was greater (P<0.0001) in the U-synch group (95.4%) than in the untreated Control group (3.2%). In Experiment 3, pregnancy rates of Dorset-cross sheep in the U-synch (60.7%) and Standard (12-day IPRD and eCG treatment; 56.5%) groups were greater (P=0.01) than in the untreated Control group (43.4%). The incidence of twin pregnancies was greater (P=0.005) in the U-synch group than in the Control group. A 7-day IPRD treatment including GnRH treatment at device insertion and eCG treatment at device removal induced oestrus and ovulation during the non-breeding season in a high proportion of mature ewes and ewe lambs. High pregnancy rates to natural mating, with a low rate of triplet pregnancies, were also observed. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Animal Reproduction Science 01/2015; 155. DOI:10.1016/j.anireprosci.2015.01.010 · 1.51 Impact Factor
  • Karen L Reader · Neil R Cox · Jo-Ann L Stanton · Jennifer L Juengel ·
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    ABSTRACT: Viable lambs can be produced after transfer of in vitro-derived embryos from oocytes harvested from prepubertal lambs. However, this occurs at a much lower efficiency than from adult ewe oocyte donors. The reduced competence of prepubertal oocytes is believed to be due, at least in part, to deficiencies in cytoplasmic maturation. Differences in the cytoplasmic ultrastructure between prepubertal and adult oocytes have been described in the sheep, pig, and cow. Prepubertal lamb oocytes have been shown to have a different distribution of mitochondria and lipid droplets, and less mitochondria and storage vesicles than their adult counterparts. L-carnitine plays a role in supplying energy to the cell by transporting long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria for β-oxidation to produce ATP. Both L-carnitine and its derivative acetyl-L-carnitine have been reported to increase the blastocyst rate of oocytes from mice, cows, and pigs, treated during IVM. L-carnitine has also been shown to increase mitochondrial biogenesis in adipose cells. Therefore, the aims of this study were to determine if treatment of oocytes from prepubertal lambs with acetyl-L-carnitine during IVM could increase the blastocyst rate and alter mitochondria, vesicle, or lipid droplet number, volume, or distribution. The blastocyst rate was doubled in prepubertal lamb oocytes treated with acetyl-L-carnitine when compared to untreated oocytes (10.0% and 4.6%, respectively; P = 0.028). Light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and stereology techniques were used to quantify organelles in untreated and acetyl-L-carnitine-treated lamb oocytes, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction methods were used to measure the mitochondrial DNA copy number. There were no differences in mitochondrial volume, number, or mitochondrial DNA copy number. Acetyl-L-carnitine treatment increased the cytoplasmic volume (P = 0.015) of the oocytes, and there were trends toward an increase in the vesicle volume (P = 0.089) and an altered distribution of lipid droplets (P = 0.076). In conclusion, acetyl-L-carnitine can be used to increase the in vitro blastocyst rate of juvenile oocytes and therefore to improve juvenile in vitro embryo transfer methods. These methods can be used for livestock improvement by increasing the rate of genetic gain. Further work is required to identify the contents of the vesicles and confirm the mode of action of acetyl-L-carnitine in improving oocyte competence. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Theriogenology 01/2015; 83(9). DOI:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2015.01.028 · 1.80 Impact Factor
  • Jun Sheng Lin · Alexia Kauff · Yong Diao · Huiyong Yang · Steve Lawrence · Jennifer L Juengel ·
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    ABSTRACT: The oocyte-derived growth factor bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) 15 plays important roles in fertility, but its mechanism of action differs between species. Generation of BMP15-binding molecules, as an essential investigation tool, would be helpful to provide valuable insight into the underlying biological features of BMP15. The BMP15-binding molecules could be antibodies or aptamers. Aptamers have many advantages over antibodies as macromolecular ligands for target proteins. DNA aptamers can be obtained by a method of Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment (SELEX) beginning with a pool of random sequences. However, the success of this technique cannot be guaranteed if the initial pool lacks candidate sequences. Herein, we report on the creation of DNA aptamers by means of modified SELEX. The modification included enhanced mutation and progressive selection during an in vitro evolutionary process. As a proof-of-principle, we started from a single sequence instead of a multiple-sequence pool. Functional aptamers against the recombinant BMP15 were successfully created and identified.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 01/2015; DOI:10.1071/RD14409 · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study was conducted to investigate the effect of attaining puberty in the first year of life on future reproductive performance in ewes. Records were collected from 2091 ewes born between 2005 and 2009. In the first breeding season of life, receptivity to the ram was monitored to determine whether ewe lambs attained puberty or not. Ewes were then mated in order to produce a lamb at 2, 3 and 4 years of age and the following traits were measured each year: ovulation rate (OR), number of foetuses present at scanning (NLS), number of lambs born (NLB) and live weight at various time points. The percentage of ewe lambs attaining puberty was highly variable between years (p < 0.001) and this variability was not explained by differences in live weight. Attainment of puberty in the first year of life increased NLB at 2 years of age (p < 0.001), largely due to an increase in OR (p < 0.01). Ewes that attained puberty in their first year were more likely to become pregnant at 2 years of age (p < 0.01) and produced more multiple births and fewer singletons (p < 0.05). These differences were not maintained at 3 and 4 years of age although differences in live weight remained (p < 0.001). These results demonstrate that attaining puberty in the first year of life improves reproductive performance as a 2 year old, increasing NLB by 20 lambs per hundred ewes and reducing the incidence of non-pregnant ewes. This has implications for improving the efficiency of sheep production on-farm.
    Small Ruminant Research 11/2014; 123(1). DOI:10.1016/j.smallrumres.2014.11.006 · 1.13 Impact Factor
  • M F Martinez · D Tutt · L D Quirke · G Tattersfield · J L Juengel ·
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    ABSTRACT: Experiments were designed to investigate the effect of different doses and timing of an eCG treatment given during GnRH-based synchronization protocols on follicular dynamics and fertility in cattle. In Exp. 1, Angus heifers (n = 50) received a 7-d Ovsynch + progesterone protocol (on d 0, GnRH and progesterone insert were administered; on d 7, progesterone insert was removed and PGF2α was injected; and on d 9.5, GnRH was injected 56 h after progesterone removal) with eCG (0, 300, 500, 700, or 1,000 IU) administered on d 7. In Exp. 2, Angus cows (n = 27) received the same protocol as Exp. 1 and were assigned randomly to receive 0 or 400 IU eCG i.m. on d 2 or 7. In Exp. 3, Angus cows (n = 18) received a 6-d Ovsynch + progesterone protocol and were randomly assigned to receive 0 or 800 IU eCG on d 3 of the protocol (Exp. 3a). A pilot field trial was also performed using the same treatments in suckled Angus-cross cows (n = 72; Exp. 3b). In Exp. 4, beef heifers (n = 200) were assigned randomly to the same treatments as in Exp. 3, but the second GnRH was not given, with Holstein bulls introduced on d 6. In Exp. 5, Angus cows (n = 12) received the same treatment as in Exp. 3, but were not inseminated. Progesterone concentrations were assessed in plasma collected during the estrous cycle following synchronization. Ultrasonography was used to monitor ovarian dynamics and to diagnose pregnancy. In Exp. 1, the mean number of ovulations was affected (P < 0.02) by the dose of eCG and the stage of follicular development when administered. Treatment with eCG on d 2 tended (P < 0.08) to extend the interval from PGF2α to ovulation, but was not successful in inducing double ovulations. In contrast, eCG on d 3 increased (P < 0.01) the number of cows with double ovulation when administered i.m. and increased (P < 0.04) pregnancy rate in single ovulating heifers after bull breeding (68.0 vs. 53.1%). This treatment also elevated progesterone concentrations during the estrous cycle following synchronization. Thus, the mechanism by which administration of eCG on d 3 of the synchronization increased pregnancy rates may be through supporting development of a healthy follicle and subsequent corpus luteum capable of secreting increased concentrations of progesterone during early pregnancy. In conclusion, strategic administration of eCG during a synchronization protocol can be used to improve reproductive performance through increased pregnancy rates in single ovulating animals as well as the induction of twin ovulations for twinning.
    Journal of Animal Science 11/2014; 92(11):4935-48. DOI:10.2527/jas.2013-7512 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) and bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) act synergistically to regulate granulosa cell proliferation and steroid production in several species. Several non-Sma and mothers against decapentaplegic (SMAD) signalling pathways are involved in the action of murine and ovine GDF9 and BMP15 in combination, with the pathways utilised differing between the two species. The aims of this research were to determine if human GDF9 and BMP15 also act in a synergistic manner to stimulate granulosa cell proliferation and to identify which non-SMAD signalling pathways are activated. Human GDF9 with BMP15 (GDF9 þ BMP15) stimulated an increase in 3 H-thymidine incorporation (P , 0.001), which was greater than the increase with BMP15 alone, while GDF9 alone had no effect. The stimulation of 3 H-thymidine incorporation by GDF9 þ BMP15 was reduced by the addition of inhibitors to the SMAD2/3, nuclear factor-K B (NF-K B) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signalling pathways. Inhibitors to the SMAD1/5/8, extracellular signal-regulated kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK-MAPK) or p38-MAPK pathways had no effect. The addition of the BMP receptor 2 (BMPR2) extracellular domain also inhibited stimulation of 3 H-thymidine incorporation by GDF9 þ BMP15. In conclusion, human GDF9 and BMP15 act synergistically to stimulate granulosa cell proliferation, a response that also involves species-specific non-SMAD signalling pathways.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 08/2014; DOI:10.1071/RD14099 · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) is a key intraovarian growth factor regulating mammalian fertility, yet expression and localisation of different BMP15 protein forms within ovarian follicles around the time of the preovulatory LH surge remains unclear. Using immunoblotting and immunocytochemistry, the present study identified that post-translationally processed BMP15 proregion and mature proteins are increasingly expressed and localised with cumulus and granulosa cells from mice treated with pregnant mare's serum gonadotropin (PMSG) + human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). However, this increased expression was absent in cumulus-oocyte complexes matured in vitro. Pull-down assays further revealed that the recombinant BMP15 proregion is capable of specific interaction with isolated granulosa cells. To verify an oocyte, and not somatic cell, origin of Bmp15 mRNA and coregulated growth differentiation factor 9 (Gdf9), in situ hybridisation and quantitative polymerase chain reaction results confirmed the exclusive oocyte localisation of Bmp15 and Gdf9, regardless of treatment or assay method. Relative oocyte expression levels of Bmp15 and Gdf9 decreased significantly after PMSG + hCG treatment; nevertheless, throughout all treatments, the Bmp15:Gdf9 mRNA expression ratio remained unchanged. Together, these data provide evidence that the preovulatory LH surge leads to upregulation of several forms of BMP15 protein secreted by the oocyte for putative sequestration and/or interaction with ovarian follicular somatic cells.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 02/2014; 27(5). DOI:10.1071/RD13336 · 2.40 Impact Factor
  • Karen L Reader · Neil R Cox · Jo-Ann L Stanton · Jennifer L Juengel ·
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    ABSTRACT: Oocytes from prepubertal animals have a reduced ability to undergo normal embryo development and produce viable offspring. The correct quantity, activity and cytoplasmic distribution of oocyte organelles are essential for oocyte maturation, fertilisation and subsequent embryo development. The aim of this study was to quantify the ultrastructural differences between oocytes from prepubertal lamb and adult ewes using electron microscopy and stereology. We also determined whether quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) methods give comparable estimates of mitochondrial number to stereology. Mean storage vesicle volume was greater in adult compared with lamb oocytes before IVM and decreased during maturation in both adult and lamb oocytes. Mitochondrial volume and number increased in adult oocytes during maturation; however, no increase was observed in lamb oocytes. Mitochondrial DNA copy number measured by qPCR showed no differences between adult and lamb oocytes. A different distribution of mitochondria was observed in lamb oocytes before maturation, while the percentage of hooded mitochondria increased during maturation in adult oocytes and decreased in the lamb. In conclusion, the present study has identified differences in the vesicles and mitochondria between adult and lamb oocytes from ewes that may contribute to reduced developmental competence in prepubertal oocytes.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 01/2014; 27(3). DOI:10.1071/RD13359 · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Attainment of puberty is a key developmental event influenced by genetic and environmental factors. In examining age of attainment of puberty, we observed closely related rams from the Davisdale line whose daughters differed in age at which they attained puberty. A candidate gene approach was used to identify mutations that may underlie these observed differences. Four rams with divergent phenotypes for their daughter's age at onset of puberty were selected for whole genome sequencing. The coding regions of genes with known roles in regulating reproductive function were searched for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that altered the amino acid sequence of the protein. Of interest were 3 SNPs in the leptin receptor (LEPR) gene. A Sequenom assay was developed to determine the genotype of these SNPs in daughters of 17 sons of a founding sire. A higher percentage of ewe lambs homozygous for the LEPR mutations failed to undergo puberty prior to 1 year of age, and those that did undergo puberty during the first breeding season on average were 18 days older than homozygous wild-type ewes. Heterozygous ewes were intermediate for both measurements. Given the predicted change in protein function produced by the mutation in LEPR and the strong associations between the genotype and onset of puberty phenotypes, we propose that this mutation in LEPR underlies the observed difference in age at onset of puberty in the Davisdale line. Furthermore, these animals will likely provide a useful model to better understand the role of leptin in regulation of puberty.
    Biology of Reproduction 01/2014; 90(2). DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.113.115923 · 3.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Partial neutralization of bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) bioactivity by immunization is known to increase ovulation rate in sheep. However, it remains uncertain whether BMP15 vaccination would be a suitable procedure for increasing lambing rate. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of a BMP15 vaccination treatment on lamb production to that of commercially-available androstenedione-based vaccines that are used for this purpose. Ewes were immunized for 3 yr against androstenedione, BMP15, or no antigen (control). Vaccination with androstenedione or BMP15 altered (P < 0.05) ovulation rate as well as litter size at mid-pregnancy, birth, and weaning compared to controls. No differences were detected in the proportions of ewes conceiving in the first cycle or partial failure of multiple ovulations. Both gender and litter size affected birth weight of the lamb (P < 0.05), but no effect of treatment was found. Growth rate was significantly affected (P < 0.05) by gender, birth weight, and the number of lambs raised, but not treatment. In conclusion, immunization against either androstenedione or BMP15 increased ovulation rate. Androstenedione vaccination also increased the number of lambs weaned (P < 0.05). Bone morphogenetic protein 15 vaccination altered the pattern of the number of lambs weaned, but no increase in lamb production was observed as more ewes produced zero or three lambs. Overall, androstenedione or BMP15 vaccination did not significantly affect embryo/fetal survival or lamb performance independently of the effects of these treatments on ovulation rate.
    Journal of Animal Science 10/2013; 91(12). DOI:10.2527/jas.2012-6085 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The goal was to estimate the heritabilities and genetic variances for embryo/fetal survival (ES) in sheep along with the effect of premating ewe weight, age and bilateral/unilateral ovulation on ES. The data consisted of 11,369 records on ovulation rate and litter size. Statistical models for ES included year and ovulation rate as fixed effects, premating ewe weight and age as covariates, and sire of embryo, maternal grandsire (MGS) and permanent maternal environmental effects of the ewe as random effects. The variance components were estimated using REML. In ewes that survived to year 6, the mean litter size was 1.87, 2.05, 2.01, 2.07, and 1.91 ± 0.04 in ewes of age 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 respectively. Litter size was less in ewes of age 2 and 6 compared to ewes of age 3, 4, and 5 (P < 0.01). Ovulation rate was lower at age 2 and increased from age 2 to 6 (P < 0.05). Two year old ewes had lower ES than 3 year old ewes (P < 0.01) and the probability of ES decreased after age 3 (P < 0.01). Thus, ES contributes significantly to lower fertility in two year old ewes. In ewes with high ovulation rates (i.e., 5 corpora lutea (CL)), more balanced ovulations (i.e., 2 or 3 CL on each ovary) tended (P = 0.06) to be associated with increased ES. A quadratic relationship was observed between ewe weight and litter size (P < 0.01) and a positive linear relationship between premating ewe weight and ovulation rate (P < 0.01). A quadratic effect of ewe weight on ES was observed, with decreased ES for low and high ewe weights (P < 0.01). The optimal ewe weight for ES increased with ovulation rate, which is consistent with the requirement of greater body reserves for maintaining a larger number of fetuses during gestation. A quadratic relationship between ewe weight and the probability that a ewe is able to maintain a pregnancy was also observed (P < 0.05). Pregnancy loss is due to failure of the embryo/fetus or failure of the dam to maintain the pregnancy. The sire of the embryo only influences the embryo whereas the MGS influences both the ewe and the embryo. The heritability for the direct additive effect on ES in ewes that lambed was 0.0081 ± 0.0139 and the heritability for the maternal additive effect was 0.0447 ± 0.0242. The permanent maternal environmental variance component was significant and explained 8.5% of the phenotypic variance. Thus, genetically, the dam's ability to maintain a pregnancy has 5.5 times the effect on pregnancy loss than the embryo's ability to survive, and this in turn was only half the size of the permanent environmental effect. Therefore, selection among dams based on the mean embryonic survival of their embryos will provide an effective way to improve embryonic survival.
    Journal of Animal Science 08/2013; 91(10). DOI:10.2527/jas.2013-6415 · 2.11 Impact Factor
  • Jennifer L Juengel · George H Davis · Kenneth P McNatty ·
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    ABSTRACT: Livestock populations have been subjected to strong selection pressure to improve reproductive success and this has led to the identification of lines of animals with increased fecundity. These animals provide a rich biological resource for discovery of genes and regulatory mechanisms that underpin improved reproductive success. To date, three genes, all related to the transforming growth factor beta (TGFB) pathway, have been identified as having mutations that lead to alterations in ovulation in sheep. In addition, several other lines of sheep have been identified with putative mutations in single genes with major effects on ovulation rate. This review is focused on the identification of the mutations affecting ovulation rate and how these discoveries have provided new insights into control of ovarian function.
    Reproduction 06/2013; 146(4). DOI:10.1530/REP-12-0509 · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) modulate ovarian function, including FGF8 and FGF18. These FGFs activate the same receptors, although FGF18 is unusual in that it increases apoptosis in ovarian granulosa cells whereas the 'typical' response to FGF is increased proliferation. The objective of the present study was to determine which early response genes and pathways are activated by FGF8 and FGF18 in bovine granulosa cells. FGF8 increased abundance of mRNA encoding the FGF-responsive genes SPRY1, SPRY2, SPRY4, NR4A1 and NR4A3 whereas FGF18 did not. FGF8 increased but FGF18 decreased levels of mRNA encoding the growth arrest associated protein, GADD45B. FGF8 increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation but FGF18 did not. Microarray analysis identified EGR1, FOS, FOSL1, BAMBI, XIRP1 and PLK2 as other FGF8 immediate-early response genes, and FGF18 stimulated EGR1, FOSL1, BAMBI and PLK2, but not FOS or XIRP1. This study demonstrates that FGF8 and FGF18 signal through divergent pathways in ovarian granulosa cells, despite reportedly similar receptor activation patterns.
    Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 05/2013; 375(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.mce.2013.05.017 · 4.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Improved livestock production efficiency through greater embryonic survival (ES) is of economic and animal welfare benefit. Physiological characterization of animals that are extreme outliers for ES provides a valuable opportunity to identify a naturally occurring mechanism by which this trait may be enhanced. The objective was to determine the likely cause for the lifetime history of enhanced or reduced ES in a line of ewes selected for high fecundity. To address this question, progesterone concentrations in peripheral plasma as well as ovarian and uterine venous plasma samples were compared between groups of ewes with a lifetime history of either enhanced or reduced ES. The ability of the uterus to synthesize progesterone de novo at Day 5 of gestation was also tested. Ewes with enhanced ES had an earlier rise in progesterone concentration after estrus, irrespective of pregnancy status. In addition, there were increased concentrations of progesterone in the uterine vein in enhanced ES compared with reduced ES ewes on Day 5 of gestation (8.3 ± 0.8 ng/mL and 3.9 ± 1.4 ng/mL, respectively, P < 0.05). However, there were no differences in ovarian venous plasma (enhanced ES, 1725 ± 166 ng/mL; reduced ES, 1665 ± 268 ng/mL) at Day 5 of gestation. Although the endometrial tissue of some ewes (3/8) at Day 5 of gestation expressed three of the key genes necessary for regulation of de novo synthesis of progesterone, expression was not present exclusively in either of the two ES groups and therefore was unlikely to explain differences in the uterine vein progesterone concentrations between the enhanced and reduced ES groups. Collectively, the earlier rise in progesterone concentrations in peripheral plasma during the first week of gestation in the enhanced ES animals was independent of the presence of an embryo. Moreover, increased progesterone concentrations were also observed in the uterine vein at Day 5 of gestation of the enhanced ES ewes. It is proposed that the difference in uterine vein progesterone concentration was likely due to the differences in ovarian venous blood supply rather than de novo synthesis by the uterus.
    Theriogenology 05/2013; 80(3). DOI:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2013.04.006 · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aims were to investigate whether oocyte-secreted growth factors from a high (i.e. rat) and low (i.e. sheep) ovulation-rate species could stimulate 3H-thymidine incorporation in granulosa cells (GC) from antral follicles from the same or across species. Denuded oocytes (DO) were co-incubated with GC with or without specific antibodies to growth differentiating factor 9 (GDF9) or bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15). Co-incubations of DO-GC from the same or across species significantly increased thymidine incorporation in GC with increasing numbers of DO. GDF9 immuno-neutralisation reduced thymidine incorporation in rat GC co-incubated with either rat or ovine DO and in ovine GC co-incubated with ovine or rat DO. BMP15 immuno-neutralisation only reduced thymidine incorporation when ovine DO were co-incubated with either ovine or rat GC. Western blotting of oocytes co-incubated with GC identified GDF9 and BMP15 proteins for sheep, and GDF9 protein for rats in oocyte lysates and incubation media. With respect to rat BMP15, a promature protein was identified in the oocyte lysate but not in media. Expression levels of GDF9 relative to BMP15 mRNA in DO co-incubated with GC were highly correlated (R2=0.99) within both species. However, the expression ratios were markedly different for the rat and sheep (4.5 vs 1.0, respectively). We conclude that during follicular development, rat oocytes secrete little, if any, BMP15 and that GDF9 without BMP15 can stimulate proliferation of rat and ovine GC. In contrast, ovine oocytes secrete both BMP15 and GDF9 and both were found to stimulate proliferation in both ovine and rat GC.
    Reproduction 09/2012; 144(1). DOI:10.1530/REP-12-0267 · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Booroola ewes homozygous (BB) for a mutation in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor-1b (BMPR1B) gene exhibit higher ovulation rates, have larger diameter oocytes at earlier stages of follicular development (i.e. Type 3) and smaller diameter follicles at ovulation than wild-type (++) sheep. However, it is not known when BMPR1B is first expressed in the developing ovary or the cell types involved. In addition, the effects of the BMPR1B mutation on primordial (Type 1) follicles or during growth to the Type 3 stage are unknown. In the present study, BB and++fetal ovaries at Days 30-135 of gestation were screened by in situ hybridisation for BMPR1B mRNA. Ovaries from BB and++lambs were examined by microscopy to measure follicular and oocyte ultrastructural characteristics in Type 1-3 follicles. BMPR1B mRNA was observed in ovaries from Day 35 of gestation and was evident in oocytes of newly forming and fully formed Type 1 follicles. In BB animals, the Type 1 follicles had larger mean follicular and oocyte diameters, a greater volume of mitochondria, smooth endoplasmic reticulum and ribosomes and a greater surface area of junctions with the granulosa cells compared with++animals. It is concluded that the BMPR1B mutation alters follicular development from the onset of follicular formation.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 01/2012; 24(2):353-61. DOI:10.1071/RD11095 · 2.40 Impact Factor
  • C Joy McIntosh · Steve Lawrence · Peter Smith · Jennifer L Juengel · Kenneth P McNatty ·
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    ABSTRACT: The transforming growth factor β (TGFB) superfamily proteins bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) and growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9), are essential for mammalian fertility. Recent in vitro evidence suggests that the proregions of mouse BMP15 and GDF9 interact with their mature proteins after secretion. In this study, we have actively immunized mice against these proregions to test the potential in vivo roles on fertility. Mice were immunized with either N- or C-terminus proregion peptides of BMP15 or GDF9, or a full-length GDF9 proregion protein, each conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). For each immunization group, ovaries were collected from ten mice for histology after immunization, while a further 20 mice were allowed to breed and litter sizes were counted. To link the ovulation and fertility data of these two experimental end points, mice were joined during the time period identified by histology as being the ovulatory period resulting in to the corpora lutea (CL) counted. Antibody titers in sera increased throughout the study period, with no cross-reactivity observed between BMP15 and GDF9 sera and antigens. Compared with KLH controls, mice immunized with the N-terminus BMP15 proregion peptide had ovaries with fewer CL (P<0.05) and produced smaller litters (P<0.05). In contrast, mice immunized with the full-length GDF9 proregion not only had more CL (P<0.01) but also had significantly smaller litter sizes (P<0.01). None of the treatments affected the number of antral follicles per ovary. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the proregions of BMP15 and GDF9, after secretion by the oocyte, have physiologically important roles in regulating ovulation rate and litter size in mice.
    Reproduction 11/2011; 143(2):195-201. DOI:10.1530/REP-11-0336 · 3.17 Impact Factor
  • K J Demmers · B Smaill · G H Davis · K G Dodds · J L Juengel ·
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to determine whether ewes heterozygous (I+) for the Inverdale mutation of the bone morphogenetic protein-15 (BMP15) gene with high natural ovulation rate (OR) show similar sensitivity to nutritional manipulation as non-carriers (++). Increasing pre-mating nutrition results in OR increases in sheep, but whether this effect occurs in ewes with naturally high OR is unknown. Over 2 years, I+ or ++ ewes were given high (ad libitum) or control (maintenance) pasture allowances for 6 weeks prior to mating at a synchronised oestrus, with OR measured 8 days later. The high group increased in weight compared with controls (+5.84kg; P<0.01), accompanied by increased OR (+19%; P<0.01). As well as having higher OR (+45%; P<0.01), I+ ewes responded to increased feed with a larger proportional increase in OR (+27%; P<0.01) compared with the response in ++ ewes (+11%; P<0.05), suggesting an interaction between BMP15 levels and nutritional signals in the follicle to control OR. Although litter size increases only tended to significance (+12%; P=0.06), extra feed resulted in over 50% of I+ ewes giving birth to more than three lambs, compared with 20-31% of I+ ewes on maintenance rations. This information can guide feed management of prolific Inverdale ewes prior to breeding.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 09/2011; 23(7):866-75. DOI:10.1071/RD10344 · 2.40 Impact Factor

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4k Citations
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  • 2014
    • University of Adelaide
      • School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health
      Tarndarnya, South Australia, Australia
  • 2002-2012
    • AgResearch
      Hamilton City, Waikato, New Zealand
  • 2007-2011
    • Victoria University of Wellington
      • School of Biological Sciences
      Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 1994-2002
    • Colorado State University
      • College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
      Fort Collins, Colorado, United States
  • 2001
    • University of Otago
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Taieri, Otago, New Zealand
  • 1998
    • National Cheng Kung University
      • Department of Physiology
      Tainan, Taiwan, Taiwan
  • 1993-1994
    • University of Missouri
      • Division of Animal Sciences
      Columbia, MO, United States