c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway has been shown to be essential for cell cycle progression and mitosis. We previously showed that this pathway is activated in mitotic granulosa cells of follicles from transitional to antral stages. In this study, we, therefore, aimed to investigate whether this signaling pathway has any effect on in-vitro growth of murine preantral follicles and granulosa cell cycle control. Two structurally different pharmacologic JNK inhibitors, SP600125 and AS601245, were used in the experiments. First their inhibitory concentrations were determined in granulosa cells by Western blot analysis. Then preantral follicles isolated from immature and adult C57BL/6 mice were cultured in matrigel and standard culture plates for 6 days with these inhibitors. Spontaneously immortalized rat granulosa cells (SIGCs) were first synchronized at G1/S and G2/M stages of cell cycle and then treated with JNK inhibitors. Cell cycle progression was analyzed with Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) assay and flow cytometry analysis. Both inhibitors significantly inhibited phosphorylation of c-Jun in granulosa cells at 25, 50, and 100 μmol/L concentrations. Isolated preantral follicles cultured with these inhibitors exhibited arrested growth in culture in a dose-dependent manner. Cell cycle analyses showed that both inhibitors impair the progression of cell cycle at S phase and G2/M transition of granulosa cells. These results suggest that JNK pathway is essential for in vitro growth of preantral follicle growth and regulates both S phase and G2/M stages of cell cycle in granulosa cells
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