The wingless-type MMTV integration site family of proteins (WNTs) is highly conserved secreted lipid-modified signaling molecules that play a variety of pivotal roles in developmental events such as embryogenesis, tissue homeostasis and cell polarity. Although, of these proteins, WNT4 is known to be involved in genital development in fetuses of mammalian species, its role is unknown in avian species. Therefore, in this study, we investigated expression profiles, as well as hormonal and post-transcriptional regulation of WNT4 expression in the reproductive tract of female chickens. Results of this study demonstrated that WNT4 is most abundant in the stromal and luminal epithelial cells of the isthmus and shell gland of the oviduct, respectively. WNT4 is also most abundant in the glandular epithelium of the shell gland of the oviduct of laying hens at 3 h post-ovulation during the laying cycle. In addition, treatment of young chicks with diethylstilbestrol (DES, a synthetic estrogen agonist) stimulated WNT4 only in the glandular epithelial cells of the isthmus and shell gland of the oviduct. Moreover, results of our study demonstrated that miR-1786 influences WNT4 expression via specific binding sites in its 3′-UTR. On the other hand, our results also indicate that WNT4 is expressed predominantly in the glandular epithelium of cancerous ovaries, but not in normal ovaries of hens. Collectively, these results indicate cell-specific expression of WNT4 in the reproductive tract of chickens and that it likely has crucial roles in development and function of oviduct as well as initiation of ovarian carcinogenesis in laying hens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)