Abstract

The estrogen membrane receptor GPR30 (also known as G-protein coupled receptor 30) has recently been shown to be involved in the regulation of oocyte maturation and cumulus expansion. However, whether GPR30 expression is regulated by gonadotropin stimulation and how it participates in the regulation of the maturation process is still not clear. In this study, we explored the mechanism underlying the synergy between luteinizing hormone and 17β-estradiol (17β-E2) to improve the epidermal growth factor (EGF) response in cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) during oocyte maturation in mice. The expression and distribution of GPR30, EGFR, and EGF-like growth factors were examined by real-time quantitative PCR, western blot, and immunofluorescence staining. Lyso-Tracker Red labeling was performed to detect the lysosomal activity in follicle granular cells (FGCs). Cumulus expansion of COCs was evaluated after in vitro maturation for 16 h. We found that EGF-like growth factors transmit LH signals to increase GRP30 levels by inhibiting protein degradation in lysosomes. Meanwhile, 17β-E2 stimulates the GPR30 signaling pathway to increase EGF receptor levels, enhancing the response ability of EGF signaling in COCs and thus promoting cumulus expansion. In conclusion, our study reveals the synergistic mechanism between LH and estrogen in the regulation of cumulus expansion during oocyte maturation process.