The main reproductive organs undergo different histological appearances and physiological processes under different reproductive statuses. The variation of these organs depends on a delicate regulation of cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Extracellular signal-regulated kinases1/2 (ERK1/2) are members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) super family. They have important roles in regulating various biological processes of different cells, tissues, and organ types. Activated ERK1/2 generally promotes cell survival, but under certain conditions, ERK1/2 also have the function of inducing apoptosis. It is widely believed that ERK1/2 play a significant role in regulating the reproductive processes of mammals. The goal of our research is to investigate the expression and distribution of ERK1/2 in the yak’s main reproductive organs during different stages. In the present study, samples of the ovary, oviduct, and uterus of 15 adult female yak were collected and used in the experiment. The ERK1/2 proteins, localization, and quantitative expression of their mRNA were investigated using immunohistochemistry (IHC), western blot (WB) and relative quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The results indicated that ERK1/2 proteins and their mRNA were highly expressed in the ovary of the luteal phase and gestation period, in the oviduct of the luteal phase, and in the uterus of the luteal phase and gestation period. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a strong distribution of ERK1/2 proteins in follicular granulosa cells, granular luteal cells, villous epithelial cells of the oviduct, endometrial glandular epithelium, and luminal epithelium. These results demonstrated that the expression of ERK1 and ERK2 proteins and their mRNA in the yak’s ovary, oviduct, and uterus varies with the stage of the reproductive cycle. The variation character of ERK1 and ERK 2 expression in the yak’s main reproductive organs during different stages implies that they play an important role in regulating the reproductive function under different physiological statuses.
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