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The study was undertaken to examine mRNA expression and localization of selected matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs), and the activity of MMPs in chicken postovulatory follicles (POFs) during their apoptotic regression. Apoptotic cells and apoptosis-related caspase expression and activity were examined as well. Chickens were sacrificed 2 h and 21 h after ovulation, and five POFs (POF1 to POF5) were isolated from the ovaries. It was found that the number of apoptotic cells (TUNEL-positive) increased along with follicle regression. The relative expression (RQ) of caspase-2, -3, -8 and -9 mRNA increased (P<0.05) in POF5, while the activity of all examined caspases elevated gradually (approximately 80-150%) reaching the highest level in POF3, and then slowly decreased to the value noted in POF1 (P<0.05 - P<0.001). Real-time polymerase chain reaction revealed different expression of MMP-2, -7, -9 and TIMP-2 and -3 on mRNA levels, and activity assay showed the changes in activity of MMP-2 and -9 in the POFs. Regression of the follicles was accompanied predominantly by an increase in the relative expression of MMP-2, and a decrease in TIMP-2 and -3 mRNAs (P<0.05 - P<0.001). The activity levels of MMP-2 and -9 showed pronounced changes during the examined period. During follicle regression elevated activity of MMP-2 and -9 was found (P<0.05 - P<0.001). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated tissue- and follicle-dependent immunoreactivity of the examined members of the MMP system. In summary, the results showing the apoptotic regression-related changes as well as tissue-dependent differences in the expression of selected MMPs and TIMPs, and activity of MMP-2 and MMP-9, point to the significance that these molecules might participate in the complex orchestration of chicken POF regression.
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MMP2, Gene expression, Polymerase chain reaction, Messenger RNA, Apoptosis, Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases, DNA, Matrix metalloproteinase
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