Cyclooxygenase-2 and prostaglandin E(2)(PGE(2)) receptor messenger RNAs are affected by bovine oocyte maturation time and cumulus-oocyte complex quality, and PGE(2) induces moderate expansion of the bovine cumulus in vitro.
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Expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) receptor 2 (EP2) are necessary for rodent cumulus expansion in vivo. Prostaglandin E(2) receptor 3 (EP3) has been detected in bovine preovulatory follicles and corpora lutea. The current experiments examined the effect of PGE(2) on bovine cumulus expansion in vitro and expression of COX-2, EP1, EP2, EP3, and EP4 mRNAs in bovine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) at 0, 6, 12, 18, and 24 h time points during maturation in vitro. Concentrations of PGE(2) above 50 ng/ml resulted in moderate cumulus expansion of bovine COCs, but expansion did not occur in the absence of serum. COX-2 mRNA expression increased in bovine COCs at 6 h and 12 h of maturation, then decreased. EP2 mRNA was detectable by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction at all time points. EP3 mRNA expression increased in COCs from 0 to 6 h and remained at this higher level through the culture period. Very low levels of EP4 mRNA expression were detectable, but EP1 was not detected in bovine COCs. Because EP receptor mRNAs and COX-2 mRNA are expressed in bovine COCs, there exists the potential for a prostaglandin autocrine/paracrine regulatory pathway during oocyte maturation. Differential expression of the EP3 mRNA among varying COC classes indicates that this gene product may be a useful marker of oocyte competence. Although the PGE(2) pathway is involved in cumulus expansion, serum factors are required to mediate PGE(2)-induced expansion.