Synchronized yolk accumulation and follicle development are essential for egg production in oviparous species. In birds, yolk is incorporated into the oocyte by an avian specific yolk receptor (LR8), and it has been suggested that occludin (OCLN), a tight junction protein, mediates transfer of yolk material to the oocyte surface. OCLN may be a key regulator of yolk accumulation and follicle growth, however, the expression and regulation of OCLN in granulosa cells during various stages of follicle development is unknown. In the first experiment, we found that LR8 and OCLN mRNA were highest in small follicles within the ovary. In addition, OCLN decreased with increasing follicle size. OCLN mRNA was more abundant in the germinal disc region of the granulosa cell layer than the non-germinal disc region. In addition, we found epidermal growth factor (EGF) and activin B, decreased OCLN mRNA, while activin A increased OCLN. In the second experiment, restricted fed (RF) broiler breeder hens were randomly divided into two groups and one group remained on RF and the other was fed ad libitum (FF). OCLN expression in granulosa cells of 3–5 mm follicles of FF hens was lower compared to RF hens and yolk weights were higher in the FF group, however, LR8 mRNA in small whole follicles (<3 mm) did not differ between groups. In conclusion, the level of feed intake is related to or may directly regulate OCLN mRNA expression or may have an indirect effect through paracrine or autocrine factors in the ovary.
Stephens, C. S., & Johnson, P. A. (2017). Occludin expression and regulation in small follicles of the layer and broiler breeder hen. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 248, 106–113. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2017.02.010