WNT2 Regulates DNA Synthesis in Mouse Granulosa Cells through Beta-catenin
Biology of Reproduction
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WNTs are secreted extracellular signaling molecules that transduce their signals by binding to G protein-coupled receptors of the frizzled (FZD) family. They control diverse developmental processes, such as cell fate specification, cell proliferation, cell differentiation, and apoptosis. Although WNT signaling has been shown to be essential for development of the ovary, its mechanistic role in folliculogenesis within the adult ovary has not been studied extensively. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the regulation and function of WNT2 signaling in mouse granulosa cells. Immunostaining identified WNT2 as being expressed in granulosa cells throughout folliculogenesis, but with varying signal strength: in sequential sections, WNT2 immunoreactivity was strongest in healthy antral follicles but weak in atretic follicles. Knockdown of WNT2 expression using transfected short interfering RNA decreased DNA synthesis in granulosa cells, whereas WNT2 overexpression using a recombinant viral vector enhanced it. WNT2 knockdown led to accumulation of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK3B) in the cytoplasm but reduced the expression of beta-catenin. Conversely, WNT2 overexpression reduced the expression of GSK3B in the cytoplasm and induced beta-catenin translocation from the membrane into the nucleus. Beta-catenin knockdown also inhibited DNA synthesis in granulosa cells and neutralized the effect of WNT2 overexpression. WNT2/beta-catenin signaling had a slight effect on the apoptosis of granulosa cells. Taken together, the data indicate that WNT2 regulates beta-catenin localization in granulosa cells, and WNT2/beta-catenin signaling contributes to regulating their proliferation.