The role of tight junction proteins in ovarian follicular development and ovarian cancer
Tight junctions (TJ) are protein structures that control the transport of water, ions and macromolecules across cell layers. Functions of the transmembrane TJ protein, occluding (OCLN) and the cytoplasmic TJ proteins, tight junction protein 1 (TJP1; also known as zona occludens protein-1), cingulin (CGN) and claudins (CLDN) are reviewed, and current evidence of their role in the ovarian function is reviewed. Abundance of OCLN, CLDNs and TJP1 mRNA changed during follicular growth. In vitro treatment with various growth factors known to affect ovarian folliculogenesis indicated that CGN, OCLN and TJP1 are hormonally regulated. The summarized studies indicate that expression of TJ proteins (i.e., OCLN, CLDN, TJP1 and CGN) changes with follicle size in a variety of vertebrate species but whether these changes in TJ proteins are increased or decreased depends on species and cell type. Evidence indicates that autocrine, paracrine and endocrine regulators, such as fibroblast growth factor-9, epidermal growth factor, androgens, tumor necrosis factor-α and glucocorticoids may modulate these TJ proteins. Additional evidence presented indicates that TJ proteins may be involved in ovarian cancer development in addition to normal follicular and luteal development. A model is proposed suggesting that hormonal downregulation of TJ proteins during ovarian follicular development could reduce barrier function (i.e., selective permeability of molecules between theca and granulosa cells) and allow for an increase in the volume of follicular fluid as well as allow additional serum factors into the follicle that may directly impact granulosa cell functions.
Source: The journal of Reproductive Science