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J Endocrinol. 2003 Jun;177(3):435-44.

The Booroola mutation in sheep is associated with an alteration of the bone morphogenetic protein receptor-IB functionality.

By: Fabre S, Pierre A, Pisselet C, Mulsant P, Lecerf F, Pohl J, Monget P, Monniaux D.

The hyperprolificacy phenotype of Booroola ewes is due to the presence of the FecB(B) allele at the FecB locus, recently identified as a single amino acid substitution (Q249R) in the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type-IB receptor (BMPR1B), and is associated with a more precocious differentiation of ovarian granulosa cells (GCs). To evaluate the consequences of the Booroola mutation on BMPR1B functions, the action of ligands of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta)/BMP family that act through (growth and differentiation factor-5, BMP-4) or independently of (activin A, TGFbeta-1) BMPR1B were studied on primary cultures of GCs from homozygous FecB(+) and FecB(B) ewes. All the tested TGFbeta/BMP family ligands inhibited progesterone secretion by FecB(+) GCs. Those inhibitory effects were lower for GCs from preovulatory (5-7 mm diameter) than from small antral follicles (1-3 mm diameter). The presence of the Booroola mutation was associated with a 3- to 4-fold (P<0.001) decreased responsiveness of GCs from FecB(B) compared with FecB(+) small follicles to the action of BMPR1B ligands. In contrast, TGFbeta-1 and activin A had similar inhibitory effects on progesterone secretion by GCs from FecB(+) and FecB(B) small follicles. No difference between genotypes was observed with GCs from preovulatory follicles. In transfection experiments with HEK-293 cells, co-expression of FecB(+) BMPR1B and BMPR2 resulted in a 2.6-fold (P<0.01) induction of the activity of a BMP-specific luciferase reporter construct by BMP-4. Interestingly, no response to BMP-4 was observed when cells were transfected with the FecB(B) form of the BMPR1B receptor. Overall, these data strongly suggest that the Q249R mutation is associated with a specific alteration of BMPR1B signaling in hyperprolific Booroola ewes.

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