Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Molecular, Cellular, and Systemic Physiology
AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF LAN HAI, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Molecular Cellular and Systemic Physiology, presented on 11th December, 2015 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: EFFECT OF CONSTITUTIVELY ACTIVATED LUTEINIZING HORMONE RECEPTOR ON THE MOUSE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Prema Narayan The luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin receptor (LHCGR) is crucial for fertility, and genetic mutations in LHCGR cause adverse effects in reproductive development. Among the activating mutations identified in LHCGR, replacement of aspartic acid 578 by glycine (D578G) is the most common inherited mutation. Boys with this mutation undergo puberty by 2-4 years, caused by elevated testosterone in the context of prepubertal luteinizing hormone levels and present with Leydig cell hyperplasia. Clinically, these symptoms are associated with familial male-limited precocious puberty (FMPP). Our lab has published a mouse model for FMPP (KiLHRD582G) with D582G mutation equivalent to D578G in human LHCGR. We have previously demonstrated that KiLHRD582G male mice exhibited precocious puberty, Leydig cell hyperplasia and elevated testosterone and was a good model for FMPP. However, unlike women with the D578G mutation who show no abnormal phenotype, our studies revealed that female KiLHRD582G mice were infertile. KiLHRD582G female mice exhibit precocious puberty and irregular estrous cyclicity. A temporal study from 2-24 weeks of age indicated elevated steroid levels and upregulation of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein as well as several steroidogenic enzyme genes. Ovaries of KiLHRD582G mice exhibited significant pathology with the development of large hemorrhagic cysts as early as 3 weeks of age, extensive stromal cell hyperplasia with luteinization, numerous atretic follicles and granulosa cell tumors. Anovulation could not be rescued by exogenous gonadotropins. The body weights of the KiLHRD582G mice was higher that wild type counterparts, but there were no differences in the body fat composition. Hyperandrogenism and polycystic ovary phenotype was not accompanied by impaired glucose tolerance. Blocking the androgen action and estrogen synthesis indicated that reproductive phenotype was primarily due to excess estradiol. These studies demonstrate that activating LHCGR mutations do not produce the same phenotype in humans and mice and clearly illustrates species differences in the expression and regulation of LHCGR in the ovary. As we use male KiLHRD582G mice as breeders, we observed that the KiLHRD582G mice became progressive infertile, and only 8% of KiLHRD582G were fertile at 6 months of age despite normal sperm production. The infertile KiLHRD582G males were not able to form copulatory plugs in WT females, and mating studies suggested that the KiLHRD582G males were not capable of mating and/or ejaculating. Sexual behavioral testing revealed that the infertile KiLHRD582G males were capable of mounting the receptive WT females but were unable to achieve ejaculation indicating a problem with erectile and/or ejaculatory function. To address the reason for the ejaculatory dysfunction, we performed histopathological analysis of the accessory glands and penis. Hematoxylin and eosin staining showed that the normal columnar epithelium was replaced by pseudostratified columnar epithelium in the ampulla and several aggregates of chondrocyte metaplasia were apparent in the penile body of KiLHRD582G male mice. A temporal study indicated the histopathological changes in ampulla and penile body initiated at 7-8 and 12 weeks of age, respectively. Immunohistochemistry indicated that the chondrocytes stained positive for collagen type II, SOX9 and androgen receptor in the nucleus and for LHCGR in the cytoplasm. Penile fibrosis is a major cause of erectile dysfunction and is characterized by an increased collagen/smooth muscle ratio. However, our Image J analysis, hydroxyproline assay and western blot showed that KiLHRD582G penile body exhibited reduced levels of smooth muscle actin but similar total collagen content compared to WT mice. Thus, penile fibrosis was not responsible for the progressive infertility of adult KiLHRD582G mice. We also observed Leydig cell adenoma and disruption of spermatogenesis at 1 year of age. Our results suggest FMPP patients may be susceptible to infertility and testicular tumors later in their life and a follow-up study of FMPP patients is recommended.
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