Increased bax and interleukin-1β-converting enzyme messenger ribonucleic acid levels coincide with apoptosis in the bovine corpus luteum during structural regression

Bo R. Rueda, Kim I. Tilly, Ihab W. Botros, Peter D. Jolly, Thomas R. Hansen, Patricia B. Hoyer, Jonathan L. Tilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Recent reports have demonstrated that prostaglandin F(2α)-induced generation of reactive oxygen species or their intermediates inhibits progesterone synthesis and may also serve as a trigger for apoptosis in the corpus luteum (CL). BCL-2, an inhibitor of apoptosis in a wide variety of cell types, has been reported to prevent oxidative stress-induced cell death. Thus, the present studies were conducted to determine whether levels of mRNA encoding BCL-2 and related members of this gene family (BAX and BCL- X(short), which induce apoptosis; BCL-X(long), a BCL-2 homologue that prevents apoptosis) differed in functional (Day 21 of pregnancy) versus regressed (Day 21 of the estrous cycle) CL in the bovine ovary. Levels of mRNAs encoding p53, a transcriptional regulator of the bcl-2 and bax genes, and interleukin-1β-converting enzyme (ICE), a protein recently implicated in the induction of apoptosis whose expression may be enhanced by oxidative stress, were also assessed. Partial cDNA clones encoding bovine bax, bcl-x, p53, and Ice were isolated using the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique with total RNA prepared from functional or regressed CL. A bovine bcl-2 cDNA could not be isolated from luteal tissue RNA despite the use of several primer pairs for amplification. Total RNA was then extracted from functional or regressed CL and analyzed by Northern blot analysis. The occurrence of apoptosis in regressed CL, as evidenced by the presence of internucleosomal DNA cleavage, was associated with a significant increase in both bax and Ice mRNA levels as compared with levels of bax and Ice expression in functional CL (p < 0.05, n = 3). There were no significant differences in bcl-x or p53 mRNA levels in functional versus regressed CL. Analysis of bcl-x mRNA by RT-PCR revealed that the long form was the primary, if not only, mRNA expressed in functional and regressed bovine luteal tissue. On the basis of data that increased expression of bax is associated with, and may be required for, apoptosis in ovarian granulosa cells and germ cells, we propose that BAX may play a similar role in apoptosis induction during luteal regression. Moreover, the increased Ice mRNA levels in regressed CL provides the first evidence that the ICE family of death proteases may be involved in luteolysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-193
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine


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