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Misung Jo, PhD


(859) 323-5800
MS335 Medical Science Building


  • Professor

College Unit(s)

Other Affiliation(s)
  • Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences - Joint Faculty


The overall research goal in my laboratory is to understand ovarian physiology, with key emphasis on elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the periovulatory process of the expansion of cumulus oocyte complex (COC), ovulation, and CL formation in the ovary. The periovulatory process is prerequisite for successful fertility in females. Considerable research efforts have been directed to identify the factors that play crucial roles in these periovulatory processes, thus aiming to develop novel clinical approaches to improve female fertility or manage infertility-associated disorders. The preovulatory gonadotropin (LH/FSH) surge induces the extensive reprogramming of gene expression in periovulatory follicles to bring out the periovulatory process. Transcription factors induced by the LH surge in the periovulatory follicles play a central role in these processes by directly controlling the expression of periovulatory genes. Of particular interest in our laboratory has been on a family of transcription factors, Core Binding Factor (CBF/PEBP2/RUNX). CBF is a heterodimeric transcription factor composed of α and β subunits: the α subunit is encoded by one of three Runx genes (Runx1, Runx2, and Runx3) and β subunit is encoded by a single gene, CBFβ. We have recently reported that Runx1 and Runx2 expression is highly up-regulated by the LH surge in periovulatory follicles and the up-regulation of Runx1/2 is important for the regulation of periovulatory genes. One of ongoing projects in our laboratory is to determine the specific actions of CBF in periovulatory follicular cells and it functional significance in the ovulatory process and cumulus expansion using in vivo and in vitro models. Further studies aims to identify and define the actions of LH-induced/activated transcriptional regulatory machinery that controls the periovulatory process. Other projects in the laboratory involve deciphering the regulatory mechanisms involved in steroidogenic shift and progesterone metabolism during the periovulatory period. Recently, we have reported “Prostate Androgen Regulated Protein 1 (PARP1)” as a novel regulator of progesterone metabolism in luteinizing granulosa cells in rats. The expression of this protein is also highly up-regulated in periovulatory follicles and this up-regulation is critical for progesterone accumulation. Progesterone is a key regulator of reproductive events, including ovulation, luteinization and pregnancy. In addition, P4 serves as a precursor of other steroids (e.g., sex steroids and corticoids) which control a wild range of physiological processes from reproduction to stress and immune responses. Therefore, the identification of novel mechanism(s) regulating progesterone production and metabolism will greatly improve our understanding of steroidogenesis and tissue specific regulation of steroids.

Selected Publications



Choi, Y., Jeon, H., Akin, J., Brannstrom, M., Curry, T.E., Jo, M*. (2021). Ovulatory induction of ACE2, a receptor for SARS-COV-2, in human ovulatory follicles. Fertility and Sterility. 2021 Aug 11:S0015-0282(21)01932-4. 

Choi, Y., Jeon, H., Akin, J., Curry, T.E., Jo, M*. (2021). The FOS/AP-1 regulates granulosa cell metabolic activity, glycolysis, and cholesterol synthesis in human periovulatory granulosa cells.  Endocrinology. 2021 162(9) – An accompanying commentary article has been invited for this paper by editorial decision

Al-Alem, L., Puttabyatappa, M., Shrestha, Ketan., Choi, Y., Rosewell, K., Brannstrom, M., Akin, J., Jo, M., Duffy, D., Curry, T. (2021). Neurotensin: A Neuropeptide induced by hCG in the human and Rat ovary during the periovulatory period. Biology of Reproduction 104(6):1337-1346.


Lee-Thacker, S., Jeon, H., Choi, Y., Taniuchi, I., Takarada, T., Yoneda, Y., Ko, C., Jo, M*. (2020). Core binding factors are essential for ovulation, luteinization, and female fertility in mice. Scientific Reports 10(1):9921.


Estienne, A., Portela, V.M., Choi, Y., Zamberlam, G., Boerboom, D., Roussel, V., Meinsohn, M.C., Brännström, M., Curry, T.E. Jr., Jo, M., Price, C.A. (2019). The endogenous hydrogen sulfide generating system regulates ovulation. Free Radical Biology and Medicine 138:43-52.  

Duffy, D.M.#, Ko, C. #, Jo, M. #, Brännström, M. #, Curry, T.E. Jr#. (2019). Ovulation: parallels with inflammatory process. Endocrine Reviews 40(2):369-416. (# indicates equal contributor


Lee-Thacker, S., Choi, Y., Taniuchi, I., Takarada, T., Yoneda, Y., Ko, C., Jo, M*. (2018). Core binding factor β expression in ovarian granulosa cells is essential for female fertility.Endocrinology 159(5):2094-2109. 

Choi, Y., Rosewell, K., Brännström,  M., Akin, J., Curry, T.E., Jo, M*. (2018).  FOS, a critical downstream mediator of PGR and EGF-signaling necessary for ovulatory prostaglandins in the human ovary. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 103(11):4241-4252.


Choi, Y., Park, J., Wilson, K., Rosewell, K., Brännström,  M., Akin, J., Curry, T.E., Jo, M*. (2017). The expression of CXCR4 is induced by the luteinizing hormone surge and mediated by progesterone receptors in human preovulatory granulosa cells.Biology of Reproduction  96(6):1256-1266.

Choi, Y., Wilson, K., Hannon, P.R., Rosewell, K., Brännström, M., Akin, J., Curry, T.E., Jo, M*. (2017).  Coordinated regulation among progesterone, prostaglandins, and EGF-like factors in human ovulatory follicles. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 102(6):1971-1982.


Wilson, K., Park, J., Curry, T.E., Mishra, B., Gossen, J. Taniuchi, I., Jo, M*. (2016). Core binding factor β knockdown alters ovarian gene expression and function in the mouse. MolecularEndocrinology  30(7):733-747.


Mishra, B., Park, J.Y., Jo, M*. (2015). X-linked lymphocyte regulated gene 5c-like (Xlr5c-like): A novel target and mediator of progesterone action in granulosa cells from periovulatory rats. Molecular Cellular Endocrinology  5; 412:226-38.


Park, J.Y., Jang, H., Curry, T.E., Sakamoto, A., Jo, M*. (2013). Prostate androgen-regulated mucine-like protein 1: A novel regulator of progesterone metabolism. Molecular Endocrinology  27(11):1871-86.


Li, F., Jo, M., Curry, T.E. Jr., and Liu, J. (2012). Hormonal induction of polo-like kinases (Plks) and impact on cell cycle progression in the rat ovary. PLoS One  2012; 7(8):e41844.

Li, F., Jang, H., Jo, M., and Curry, T.E. Jr. (2012). Ovarian FAM110C (family with sequence similarity 110C):  Induction during the periovulatory period and regulation of granulosa cell cycle kinetics. Biology of Reproduction 22; 86(6):185.

Bridges, P.J., Jeong, M., Shim, S., Park, J.Y., Lee, J.E., Sapsford, L.A., Trudgen, K., Ko, C., Gye, M.C., and Jo, M*. (2012). Hematopoetic prostaglandin D synthase: An ESR1-dependent regulator of inflammatory gene expression in the mouse oviduct.  Endocrinology  153(4):1925-35.

Park, E.S., and Jo, M*. (2012). A role for RUNX2 as a transcriptional repressor in periovulatory granulosa cells. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 15;362(1-2):165-75.


Li, F., Liu, J., Jo, M., and Curry, T.E. Jr. (2011). A role for nuclear factor interleukin-3 (NFIL3), a critical transcriptional repressor, in down-regulation of periovulatory gene expression. Molecular Endocrinology 25(3):445-59.


Bridges, P.J., Jo, M., Al Alem, L., Na, G., Su, W., Gong, M.C., and Ko, C. (2010). Production and binding of endothelin-2 (EDN2) in the rat ovary at ovulation: Endothelin receptor subtype A (EDNRA) mediated contraction. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 22:780-787.

Liu, J., Park, E.S., Curry, T.E. Jr., Jo, M.* (2010). Periovulatory expression of hyaluronan and proteoglycan link protein 1 (Hapln1) in the rat ovary: Hormonal regulation and potential function. Molecular Endocrinology 24(6):1203-17.

Park, E.S., Lind, A.K., Dahm-Kähler, P., Brännström, M., Carletti, M.Z., Christenson, L.K., Curry, T.E. Jr., Jo, M.* (2010). RUNX2 transcription factor regulates gene expression in luteinizing granulosa cells of rat ovaries.  Molecular Endocrinology 24(4):846-58. 


Li, F., Liu, J., Park, E.S., Jo, M., and Curry, T.E., Jr. (2009). The B-Cell Translocation Gene (BTG) family in the rat ovary: Hormonal induction, regulation, and impact on cell cycle kinetics. Endocrinology 50(8):3894-902.

Liu, J., Park, E.S., Jo, M.* (2009). Runt-related transcription factor 1 regulates luteinized hormone-induced prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 expression in rat periovulatory granulosa cells. Endocrinology 150(7):3291-300.


Park, E.S., Choi, S., Muse, K.N., Curry, T.E. Jr., Jo, M.* (2008). Response gene to complement 32 expression is induced by the luteinizing hormone (L.H.) surge and regulated by LH-induced mediators in the rodent ovary. Endocrinology 149(6):3025-36.


Jo, M.*, Curry, T.E. Jr. (2006). Luteinizing hormone-induced RUNX1 regulates the expression of genes in granulosa cells of rat periovulatory follicles. Molecular Endocrinology 20(9):2156-72.


Gieske, M.C., Na, G.Y., Lee, E.J., Payne, C.E., Jo, M.*, Curry, T.E., Jr., Ko, C. (2005). Ovulation as an inflammatory reaction: Protection of ovarian tissue from damage. Journal of Endocrinology 186:303-313.


Jo, M.*, Gieske, M.C., Payne, C.E., Wheeler-Price, S.E., Gieske, J.B., Ignatius, I.V., Curry, T.E. Jr., Ko, C. (2004).  Development and Application of a Rat Ovarian Gene Expression Database (rOGED). Endocrinology 145(11):5384-96.

Jo, M.* and Curry, T.E. Jr. (2004). Regulation of matrix metalloproteinase-19 messenger RNA expression in the rat ovary. Biology of Reproduction 71(6):1796-806.

Jo, M.*, Thomas, L.E., Wheeler, S.E., Curry, T.E. Jr. (2004). Membrane type 1-matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-associated MMP-2 activation increases in the rat ovary in response to an ovulatory dose of human chorionic gonadotropin. Biology of Reproduction 70(4):1024-32.     


Jo, M.* and Fortune, J.E. (2003). The effects of the gonadotropin surge on oxytocin and oxytocin receptor expression in bovine preovulatory follicles. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 28; 200(1-2):31-43.


Jo, M.*, Komar, C.K., and Fortune, J.E. (2002). The gonadotropin surge upregulates the expression of progesterone receptor in bovine periovulatory follicles. Biology of Reproduction 67(6):1981-1988.

Jo, M.* and Fortune, J.E. (2002). Oxytocin inhibits LH-stimulated production of androstenedione by bovine theca cells. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 1; 88 (1-2) 151-159.


Zhang, T., Choy, M., Jo, M., Roberson, MS. (2001). Structural organization of the rat mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 2 gene. Gene 25: 273 (1) 71-79.