Indexed on: 07 Oct '11Published on: 07 Oct '11Published in: Reproduction (Cambridge, England)
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) interacts with caspases to inhibit their activity, thereby providing a potential mechanism for regulation of granulosa cell apoptosis occurring during follicular atresia. The aim of this study was to determine the presence and localization of XIAP mRNA and protein content in the sheep ovary and compare these expression patterns with active caspase-3 protein in the same antral follicles. Romney ewe estrous cycles (n=25) were synchronized with 2-3 Estrumate injections and ovarian tissue collected during the luteal and follicular phases of the cycle. The presence of XIAP mRNA was confirmed by RT-PCR using laser capture microdissected ovarian cell samples. XIAP mRNA was subsequently localized by in situ hybridization histochemistry and XIAP and active caspase-3 protein visualized by immunohistochemistry. In antral follicles extensive XIAP localization was evident in both granulosa and thecal cells. In contrast, mRNA expression was widespread in granulosa cells and only detected in thecal tissue from a small proportion of antral follicles. Active caspase-3 and XIAP comparative expression analysis showed positive XIAP mRNA expression in all late luteal phase (day 14) follicles, despite varying levels of active caspase-3 protein. A proportion of follicular phase (days 15 and 16) follicles, however, showed an inverse expression relationship at the protein and mRNA levels in both granulosa and thecal tissue, as did XIAP protein in day 14 follicles. These results suggest high XIAP may prevent activation of caspase-3, thereby regulating follicular atresia in antral follicles and could potentially be utilized as a marker of follicular health.