Inhibins: Glycoproteins that inhibit pituitary FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE secretion. Inhibins are secreted by the Sertoli cells of the testes, the granulosa cells of the ovarian follicles, the placenta, and other tissues. Inhibins and ACTIVINS are modulators of FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE secretions; both groups belong to the TGF-beta superfamily, as the TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA. Inhibins consist of a disulfide-linked heterodimer with a unique alpha linked to either a beta A or a beta B subunit to form inhibin A or inhibin B, respectivelyActivins: Activins are produced in the pituitary, gonads, and other tissues. By acting locally, they stimulate pituitary FSH secretion and have diverse effects on cell differentiation and embryonic development. Activins are glycoproteins that are hetero- or homodimers of INHIBIN-BETA SUBUNITS.Zona Reticularis: The inner zone of the adrenal cortex. This zone produces the enzymes that convert PREGNENOLONE, a 21-carbon steroid, to 19-carbon steroids (DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE; and ANDROSTENEDIONE) via 17-ALPHA-HYDROXYPREGNENOLONE.Follistatin: A broadly distributed protein that binds directly to ACTIVINS. It functions as an activin antagonist, inhibits FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE secretion, regulates CELL DIFFERENTIATION, and plays an important role in embryogenesis. Follistatin is a single glycosylated polypeptide chain of approximately 37-kDa and is not a member of the inhibin family (INHIBINS). Follistatin also binds and neutralizes many members of the TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA family.Inhibin-beta Subunits: They are glycopeptides and subunits in INHIBINS and ACTIVINS. Inhibins and activins belong to the transforming growth factor beta superfamily.Activin Receptors: Receptors for ACTIVINS are membrane protein kinases belonging to the family of PROTEIN-SERINE-THREONINE KINASES, thus also named activin receptor-like kinases (ALK's). Activin receptors also bind TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA. As those transmembrane receptors of the TGF-beta superfamily (RECEPTORS, TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA), ALK's consist of two different but related protein kinases, Type I and Type II. Activins initiate cellular signal transduction by first binding to the type II receptors (ACTIVIN RECEPTORS, TYPE II ) which then recruit and phosphorylate the type I receptors (ACTIVIN RECEPTORS, TYPE I ) with subsequent activation of the type I kinase activity.Follicle Stimulating Hormone: A major gonadotropin secreted by the adenohypophysis (PITUITARY GLAND, ANTERIOR). Follicle-stimulating hormone stimulates GAMETOGENESIS and the supporting cells such as the ovarian GRANULOSA CELLS, the testicular SERTOLI CELLS, and LEYDIG CELLS. FSH consists of two noncovalently linked subunits, alpha and beta. Within a species, the alpha subunit is common in the three pituitary glycoprotein hormones (TSH, LH, and FSH), but the beta subunit is unique and confers its biological specificity.Zona Fasciculata: The wide middle zone of the adrenal cortex. This zone produces a series of enzymes that convert PREGNENOLONE to cortisol (HYDROCORTISONE) via 17-ALPHA-HYDROXYPROGESTERONE.Gonadotropins: Hormones that stimulate gonadal functions such as GAMETOGENESIS and sex steroid hormone production in the OVARY and the TESTIS. Major gonadotropins are glycoproteins produced primarily by the adenohypophysis (GONADOTROPINS, PITUITARY) and the placenta (CHORIONIC GONADOTROPIN). In some species, pituitary PROLACTIN and PLACENTAL LACTOGEN exert some luteotropic activities.Activin Receptors, Type II: One of the two types of ACTIVIN RECEPTORS. They are membrane protein kinases belonging to the family of PROTEIN-SERINE-THREONINE KINASES. The major type II activin receptors are ActR-IIA and ActR-IIB.Ovary: The reproductive organ (GONADS) in female animals. In vertebrates, the ovary contains two functional parts: the OVARIAN FOLLICLE for the production of female germ cells (OOGENESIS); and the endocrine cells (GRANULOSA CELLS; THECA CELLS; and LUTEAL CELLS) for the production of ESTROGENS and PROGESTERONE.Activin Receptors, Type I: One of the two types of ACTIVIN RECEPTORS or activin receptor-like kinases (ALK'S). There are several type I activin receptors. The major active ones are ALK-2 (ActR-IA) and ALK-4 (ActR-IB).Ovarian Follicle: An OOCYTE-containing structure in the cortex of the OVARY. The oocyte is enclosed by a layer of GRANULOSA CELLS providing a nourishing microenvironment (FOLLICULAR FLUID). The number and size of follicles vary depending on the age and reproductive state of the female. The growing follicles are divided into five stages: primary, secondary, tertiary, Graafian, and atretic. Follicular growth and steroidogenesis depend on the presence of GONADOTROPINS.Body Fluids: Liquid components of living organisms.Pituitary Gland: A small, unpaired gland situated in the SELLA TURCICA. It is connected to the HYPOTHALAMUS by a short stalk which is called the INFUNDIBULUM.Luteinizing Hormone: A major gonadotropin secreted by the adenohypophysis (PITUITARY GLAND, ANTERIOR). Luteinizing hormone regulates steroid production by the interstitial cells of the TESTIS and the OVARY. The preovulatory LUTEINIZING HORMONE surge in females induces OVULATION, and subsequent LUTEINIZATION of the follicle. LUTEINIZING HORMONE consists of two noncovalently linked subunits, alpha and beta. Within a species, the alpha subunit is common in the three pituitary glycoprotein hormones (TSH, LH and FSH), but the beta subunit is unique and confers its biological specificity.Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta: Cell-surface proteins that bind transforming growth factor beta and trigger changes influencing the behavior of cells. Two types of transforming growth factor receptors have been recognized. They differ in affinity for different members of the transforming growth factor beta family and in cellular mechanisms of action.Estrus: The period in the ESTROUS CYCLE associated with maximum sexual receptivity and fertility in non-primate female mammals.Estradiol: The 17-beta-isomer of estradiol, an aromatized C18 steroid with hydroxyl group at 3-beta- and 17-beta-position. Estradiol-17-beta is the most potent form of mammalian estrogenic steroids.Steroids: A group of polycyclic compounds closely related biochemically to TERPENES. They include cholesterol, numerous hormones, precursors of certain vitamins, bile acids, alcohols (STEROLS), and certain natural drugs and poisons. Steroids have a common nucleus, a fused, reduced 17-carbon atom ring system, cyclopentanoperhydrophenanthrene. Most steroids also have two methyl groups and an aliphatic side-chain attached to the nucleus. (From Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, 11th ed)Testis: The male gonad containing two functional parts: the SEMINIFEROUS TUBULES for the production and transport of male germ cells (SPERMATOGENESIS) and the interstitial compartment containing LEYDIG CELLS that produce ANDROGENS.Ovulation: The discharge of an OVUM from a rupturing follicle in the OVARY.Progesterone: The major progestational steroid that is secreted primarily by the CORPUS LUTEUM and the PLACENTA. Progesterone acts on the UTERUS, the MAMMARY GLANDS and the BRAIN. It is required in EMBRYO IMPLANTATION; PREGNANCY maintenance, and the development of mammary tissue for MILK production. Progesterone, converted from PREGNENOLONE, also serves as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of GONADAL STEROID HORMONES and adrenal CORTICOSTEROIDS.Reproduction: The total process by which organisms produce offspring. (Stedman, 25th ed)Ovariectomy: The surgical removal of one or both ovaries.Pregnancy: The status during which female mammals carry their developing young (EMBRYOS or FETUSES) in utero before birth, beginning from FERTILIZATION to BIRTH.Cattle: Domesticated bovine animals of the genus Bos, usually kept on a farm or ranch and used for the production of meat or dairy products or for heavy labor.
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