High fertility and early puberty in Bos indicus
heifers are desirable and genetically correlated traits in beef production. The hypothalamus–pituitary–ovarian (HPO) axis synthesizes steroid hormones, which contribute to the shift from the pre-pubertal state into the post-pubertal state and influence subsequent fertility. Understanding variations in abundance of proteins that govern steroid synthesis and ovarian signaling pathways remains crucial to understanding puberty and fertility. We used whole ovaries of six pre-pubertal and six post-pubertal Brahman heifers to conduct differential abundance analyses of protein profiles between the two physiological states. Extracted proteins were digested into peptides followed by identification and quantification with massspectrometry (MS) by sequential window acquisition of all instances of theoretical fragment ion mass spectrometry (SWATH-MS). MS and statistical analysis identified 566 significantly differentially abundant (DA) proteins (adjusted p
< 0.05), which were then analyzed for gene ontology and pathway enrichment. Our data indicated an up-regulation of steroidogenic proteins contributing to progesterone synthesis at luteal phase post-puberty. Proteins related to progesterone signaling, TGF-β, retinoic acid, extracellular matrix, cytoskeleton, and pleiotrophin signaling were DA in this study. The DA proteins probably relate to the formation and function of the corpus luteum
, which is only present after ovulation, post-puberty. Some DA proteins might also be related to granulosa cells signaling, which regulates oocyte maturation or arrest in ovaries prior to ovulation. Ten DA proteins were coded by genes previously associated with reproductive traits according to the animal quantitative trait loci (QTL) database. In conclusion, the DA proteins and their pathways were related to ovarian activity in Bos indicus
cattle. The genes that code for these proteins may explain some known QTLs and could be targeted in future genetic studies.
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