Endothelin-1 (ET)-1 within the corpus luteum (CL) is rapidly up-regulated during natural or PGF2α-induced luteolysis; however, such an increase was not observed at early luteal stage, when the CL is refractory to PGF2α. The mature and active form of ET-1 is derived from the inactive intermediate peptide, big ET-1, by ET-converting enzyme (ECE)-1. This study therefore examined the developmental and cell-specific expression of ECE-1 in bovine CL. A significant, 4-fold, elevation in ECE-1 expression (mRNA and protein levels) occurred during the transition of the CL from early to midluteal phase. Analysis using in-situ hybridization and enriched luteal cell subpopulations showed that both steroidogenic and endothelial cells of the CL expressed high levels of ECE-1 mRNA; prepro ET-1 mRNA, on the other hand, was only expressed by resident endothelial cells. These data suggest that luteal parenchymal and endothelial cells may cooperate in the biosynthesis of mature bioactive ET-1. In the mature CL, ECE-1 mRNA increase occurred both in steroidogenic and endothelial cells and was accompanied by a significant rise in ET-1 peptide. However, in contrast to ECE-1, prepro ET-1 mRNA levels were similar in early and midluteal-phase CL. Low ECE-1 levels during the early luteal phase, restricting the production of active ET-1, may explain why the immature CL is able to withstand PGF2α-induced luteolysis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas