Date of Award

Winter 2012

Project Type


Program or Major

Animal Science

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

David Townson


Granulosa cell apoptosis is associated with follicular atresia; but the cellular mechanisms that drive this process, especially its cell specificity, are relatively unknown. Here, we determined that cultured granulosa cells abundantly express K8/K18 filaments and inhibition of protein synthesis enhances Fas-induced apoptosis. In this context, the roles of cFLIP, ERK1/2 and Akt are minimal but conversely, K8/K18 filaments have a prominent role in granulosa cell resistance to Fas-induced apoptosis. Keratin 8/18 filaments in granulosa cells provide a plausible mechanism to avoid Fas-induced apoptosis and this mechanism potentially involves the synthesis of labile proteins. The existence of K8/K18 filaments in granulosa cells has relevance to follicular atresia and the selection of follicles for ovulation. These insights may have bearing on future therapeutic strategies to improve female fertility.