BACKGROUND: Activins are members of the pleiotrophic family of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily of cytokines, initially isolated for their capacity to induce the release of FSH from pituitary extracts. Subsequent research has demonstrated that activins are involved in multiple biological functions including the control of inflammation, fibrosis, developmental biology and tumourigenesis. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the roles of activin in reproductive and developmental biology. It also discusses interesting advances in the field of modulating the bioactivity of activins as a therapeutic target, which would undoubtedly be beneficial for patients with reproductive pathology. METHODS: A comprehensive literature search was carried out using PUBMED and Google Scholar databases to identify studies in the English language which have contributed to the advancement of the field of activin biology, since its initial isolation in 1987 until July 2015. 'Activin', 'testis', 'ovary', 'embryonic development' and 'therapeutic targets' were used as the keywords in combination with other search phrases relevant to the topic of activin biology. RESULTS: Activins, which are dimers of inhibin beta subunits, act via a classical TGF-beta signalling pathway. The bioactivity of activin is regulated by two endogenous inhibitors, inhibin and follistatin. Activin is a major regulator of testicular and ovarian development. In the ovary, activin A promotes oocyte maturation and regulates granulosa cell steroidogenesis. It is also essential in endometrial repair following menstruation, decidualization and maintaining pregnancy. Dysregulation of the activin-follistatin-inhibin system leads to disorders of female reproduction and pregnancy, including polycystic ovary syndrome, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, fetal growth restriction, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and pre-term birth. Moreover, a rise in serum activin A, accompanied by elevated FSH, is characteristic of female reproductive aging. In the male, activin A is an autocrine and paracrine modulator of germ cell development and Sertoli cell proliferation. Disruption of normal activin signalling is characteristic of many tumours affecting reproductive organs, including endometrial carcinoma, cervical cancer, testicular and ovarian cancer as well as prostate cancer. While activin A and B aid the progression of many tumours of the reproductive organs, activin C acts as a tumour suppressor. Activins are important in embryonic induction, morphogenesis of branched glandular organs, development of limbs and nervous system, craniofacial and dental development and morphogenesis of the Wolffian duct. CONCLUSIONS: The field of activin biology has advanced considerably since its initial discovery as an FSH stimulating agent. Now, activin is well known as a growth factor and cytokine that regulates many aspects of reproductive biology, developmental biology and also inflammation and immunological mechanisms. Current research provides evidence for novel roles of activins in maintaining the structure and function of reproductive and other organ systems. The fact that activin A is elevated both locally as well as systemically in major disorders of the reproductive system makes it an important biomarker. Given the established role of activin A as a pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic agent, studies of its involvement in disorders of reproduction resulting from these processes should be examined. Follistatin, as a key regulator of the biological actions of activin, should be evaluated as a therapeutic agent in conditions where activin A overexpression is established as a contributing factor.
Spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, is a devastating invasive pest of small and stone fruits in the Americas and Europe. To better understand the population dynamics of D. suzukii, we reviewed recent work on juvenile development, adult reproduction, and seasonal variation in life history parameters including the abiotic/biotic factors that influence these processes. Juvenile development is optimal at moderately warm temperatures, and larvae exhibit some immunity to parasitism. Adults use visual cues and substrate-borne vibrations for courtship and exhibit a bimodal locomotor activity pattern (except mated females). Under 20–27 °C and various conditions, development from egg to adult can take 10–17 days, females first lay eggs within 1–8 days and their lifetime fecundity varies from 400. Oviposition is consistently high in raspberry hosts and fruits with lower penetration force, and the presence of Wolbachia endosymbionts can lower fertility. Drosophila suzukii exhibit seasonal variation with a darker winter morph that is more cold tolerant. Also, D. suzukii likely undergo reproductive diapause in the fall, with colder temperatures and shorter day lengths influencing reproduction. To develop viable IPM programs for D. suzukii, knowledge of abiotic and biotic conditions that impact D. suzukii life history parameters and population dynamics is critical, and gaps in the current knowledge are discussed.
Highlights • Scientific legacy of Louis J. Guillette Jr., 1955-2015. • Evolution and development of reproductive endocrine function. • Characterization of endocrine disrupting chemicals. • Connection between wildlife and human in reproductive physiology.
A histological analysis of ovaries was conducted to examine reproductive characteristics of female Pacific bluefin tuna, (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844), in the known spawning ground in the Sea of Japan. A total of 1040 females caught with purse seines were sampled from late May to early August in 2011 and 2012. The spawning season began in mid-June and continued until early August. The sex ratio for the catch in 2012 was nearly 1:1. The estimated spawning time was 1700–2200 h based on the occurrence of 0 h postovulatory follicles. The estimated mean spawning frequency and mean spawning interval were 0.91 per day and 1.10 days, respectively, indicating that mature females spawn nearly every day in the Sea of Japan. The fork lengths at 50% and 95% mature were 114.4 cm and 133.6 cm, respectively. Batch fecundity was positively correlated with fork length, gilled and gutted body weight, and gonad weight. The mean batch fecundity was 6.4 million oocytes, and the mean relative batch fecundity per gilled and gutted body weight was 122 oocytes. This study provides some comprehensive information on reproductive biology of female Pacific bluefin tuna in the Sea of Japan.