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Basement membranes (BMs) are specialized extracellular scaffolds that influence behaviors of cells in epithelial, endothelial, muscle, nervous, and fat tissues. Throughout development and in response to injury or disease, BMs are fine-tuned with specific protein compositions, ultrastructure, and localization. These features are modulated through implements of the BM toolkit that is comprised of collagen IV, laminin, perlecan, and nidogen. Two additional proteins, peroxidasin and Goodpasture antigen-binding protein (GPBP), have recently emerged as potential members of the toolkit. In the present study, we sought to determine whether peroxidasin and GPBP undergo dynamic regulation in the assembly of uterine tissue BMs in early pregnancy as a tractable model for dynamic adult BMs. We explored these proteins in the context of collagen IV and laminin that are known to extensively change for decidualization. Electron microscopic analyses revealed: 1) a smooth continuous layer of BM in between the epithelial and stromal layers of the preimplantation endometrium; and 2) interrupted, uneven, and progressively thickened BM within the pericellular space of the postimplantation decidua. Quantification of mRNA levels by qPCR showed changes in expression levels that were complemented by immunofluorescence localization of peroxidasin, GPBP, collagen IV, and laminin. Novel BM-associated and subcellular spatiotemporal localization patterns of the four components suggest both collective pericellular functions and distinct functions in the uterus during reprogramming for embryo implantation.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Excessive cytokine inflammatory response due to chronic or superphysiological level of microbial infection during pregnancy leads to pregnancy complications such as early pregnancy defects/loss and preterm birth. Bacterial toxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS), long recognized as a potent proinflammatory mediator, has been identified as a risk factor for pregnancy complications. Alkaline phosphatase (AP) isozymes have been shown to detoxify LPS by dephosphorylation. In this study, we examined the role of alkaline phosphatase (AP) in mitigating LPS-induced early pregnancy complications in mice. We found that 1) the uterus prior to implantation and implantation sites following embryo implantation produce LPS recognition and dephosphorylation molecules TLR4 and tissue non-specific AP (TNAP) isozyme, respectively; 2) uterine TNAP isozyme dephosphorylates LPS at its sites of production; 3) while LPS administration following embryo implantation elicits proinflammatory cytokine mRNA levels at the embryo implantation sites (EISs) and causes early pregnancy loss, dephosphorylated LPS neither triggers proinflammatory cytokine mRNA levels at the EISs nor induces pregnancy complications; 4) AP isozyme supplementation to accelerate LPS detoxification attenuates LPS-induced pregnancy complications following embryo implantation. These findings suggest that a LPS dephosphorylation strategy using AP isozyme may have a unique therapeutic potential to mitigate LPS- or Gram-negative bacteria-induced pregnancy complications in at-risk women.
The mouse model has greatly contributed to understanding molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of progesterone (P4) plus estrogen (E)-dependent blastocyst implantation process. However, little is known about contributory molecular mechanisms of the P4-only-dependent blastocyst implantation process that occurs in species such as hamsters, guineapigs, rabbits, pigs, rhesus monkeys, and perhaps humans. We used the hamster as a model of P4-only-dependent blastocyst implantation and carried out cross-species microarray (CSM) analyses to reveal differentially expressed genes at the blastocyst implantation site (BIS), in order to advance the understanding of molecular mechanisms of implantation. Upregulation of 112 genes and downregulation of 77 genes at the BIS were identified using a mouse microarray platform, while use of the human microarray revealed 62 up- and 38 down-regulated genes at the BIS. Excitingly, a sizable number of genes (30 up- and 11 down-regulated genes) were identified as a shared pool by both CSMs. Real-time RT-PCR and in situ hybridization validated the expression patterns of several up- and down-regulated genes identified by both CSMs at the hamster and mouse BIS to demonstrate the merit of CSM findings across species, in addition to revealing genes specific to hamsters. Functional annotation analysis found that genes involved in the spliceosome, proteasome, and ubiquination pathways are enriched at the hamster BIS, while genes associated with tight junction, SAPK/JNK signaling, and PPARα/RXRα signalings are repressed at the BIS. Overall, this study provides a pool of genes and evidence of their participation in up- and down-regulated cellular functions/pathways at the hamster BIS.
© 2014 Society for Reproduction and Fertility.
STUDY QUESTION - Does a differential abundance of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein in uterine fluid (UF) have a functional significance?
SUMMARY ANSWER - In rats, an excess of HMGB1 in UF during the receptive phase is detrimental to pregnancy.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY - The identification of constituents of the human uterine secretome has been a subject of renewed interest, due to the advent of high throughput proteomic technologies. Proteomic-based investigations of human UF have revealed the presence of several proteins such as mucins, host defense proteins S100, heat shock protein 27 and haptoglobin, etc. The present study reports on the presence of HMGB1, a nuclear protein, in human UF. Activated macrophages/monocytes, natural killer cells, mature dendritic cells, pituicytes and erythroleukemic cells are also known to secrete HMGB1. Existing data suggest that extracellular HMGB1 plays a role in inflammation.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION - The human part of this study was cross-sectional in design. UF and endometrial tissues were collected from regularly cycling women in the early secretory (i.e. pre-receptive phase, Day 2 post-ovulation, n = 7) or secretory phase (i.e. receptive phase, Day 6 post-ovulation, n = 7) of their menstrual cycles. Samples were also collected from cycling rats in the proestrous (n = 8) or metestrous (n = 8) phase of their estrous cycles. Uteri were also collected from HMGB1-treated pregnant (n = 7) and untreated pseudo-pregnant (n = 7) rats and from pregnant rats at Day 3-5 post-coitum (p.c.) (n = 18, 3 each for six-time points).
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS - In each group of human samples, four samples were used for isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) analysis and three samples were used for immunoblotting experiments to determine the abundance of HMGB1 in pre-receptive and receptive phase UF samples. HMGB1 levels in rat UF and endometrial tissue samples were estimated by ELISA and immunohistochemical studies, respectively. The expression of inflammation-associated molecules, such as nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGEs), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), was analyzed by immunohistochemistry in HMGB1-treated and pseudo-pregnant rats.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE - HMGB1 was identified as one of the differentially abundant proteins in the list generated by 8-plex iTRAQ analysis of receptive and pre-receptive phase UF samples. In both humans and rats, secreted and cellular levels of HMGB1 showed a similar pattern, i.e. significantly (P < 0.05) lower abundance in the receptive phase compared with that in the pre-receptive phase. A significant (P < 0.05) decline was also observed in the endometrial expression of HMGB1 on the day of implantation in pregnant rats. Exogenous administration of recombinant HMGB1, on Day 3 p.c., led to pregnancy failure, whereas administration of recombinant leukemia inhibitory factor or saline had no effect on pregnant rats. Further investigations revealed morphological changes in the endometrium, an increase in the expression of luminal epithelial NFκB and significantly (P < 0.05) higher expression levels of endometrial RAGE, TNF-α and IL-6 in HMGB1-treated rats, compared with untreated pseudo-pregnant rats.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION - The mechanisms, contributing to a decline in the cellular and extracellular levels of HMGB1 during the receptive phase, remain to be ascertained.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS - An excess of HMGB1 in the UF may be associated with infertility in women.
Alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity has been demonstrated in the uterus of several species, but its importance in the uterus, in general and during pregnancy, is yet to be revealed. In this study, we focused on identifying AP isozyme types and their hormonal regulation, cell type, and event-specific expression and possible functions in the hamster uterus during the cycle and early pregnancy. Our RT-PCR and in situ hybridization studies demonstrated that among the known Akp2, Akp3, Akp5, and Akp6 murine AP isozyme genes, hamster uteri express only Akp2 and Akp6; both genes are co-expressed in luminal epithelial cells. Studies in cyclic and ovariectomized hamsters established that while progesterone (P₄) is the major uterine Akp2 inducer, both P₄ and estrogen are strong Akp6 regulators. Studies in preimplantation uteri showed induction of both genes and the activity of their encoded isozymes in luminal epithelial cells during uterine receptivity. However, at the beginning of implantation, Akp2 showed reduced expression in luminal epithelial cells surrounding the implanted embryo. By contrast, expression of Akp6 and its isozyme was maintained in luminal epithelial cells adjacent to, but not away from, the implanted embryo. Following implantation, stromal transformation to decidua was associated with induced expressions of only Akp2 and its isozyme. We next demonstrated that uterine APs dephosphorylate and detoxify endotoxin lipopolysaccharide at their sites of production and activity. Taken together, our findings suggest that uterine APs contribute to uterine receptivity, implantation, and decidualization in addition to their role in protection of the uterus and pregnancy against bacterial infection.
The adherens junction (AJ) is important for maintaining uterine structural integrity, composition of the luminal environment, and initiation of implantation by virtue of its properties of cell-cell recognition, adhesion, and establishment of cell polarity and permeability barriers. In this study, we investigated the uterine changes of AJ components E-cadherin, beta-catenin, and alpha-catenin at their mRNA and protein levels, together with the cellular distribution of meprinbeta, phospho-beta-catenin, and active beta-catenin proteins, in hamsters that show only ovarian progesterone-dependent uterine receptivity and implantation. By in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence, we have demonstrated that uterine epithelial cells expressed three of these AJ proteins and their mRNAs prior to and during the initial phase of implantation. Immunofluorescence study showed no change in epithelial expression patterns of uterine AJ proteins from Days 1 to 5 of pregnancy. With advancement of the implantation process, AJ components were primarily expressed in cells of the secondary decidual zone (SDZ), but not in the primary decidual zone (PDZ). In contrast, we noted strong expression of beta-catenin and alpha-catenin proteins in the PDZ, but not in the SDZ, of mice. Taken together, these results suggest that AJ proteins contribute to uterine barrier functions by cell-cell adhesion to ensure protection of the embryo. In addition, cleavage of E-cadherin by meprinbeta might contribute to weakening uterine epithelial cell-cell contact for blastocyst implantation. We also report that the nuclear localization of active beta-catenin from Day 4 onward in hamsters implies that beta-catenin/Wnt-signal transduction is activated in the uterus during implantation and decidualization.
Immunophilin FK506-binding protein 52 (FKBP52) is a cochaperone that binds to the progesterone receptor (PR) to optimize progesterone (P(4))-PR signaling. We recently showed that Fkbp52-deficient (Fkbp52(-/-)) mice have reduced uterine PR responsiveness and implantation failure which is rescued by excess P(4) supplementation in a genetic background-dependent manner. This finding led us to hypothesize that FKBP52 has functions in addition to optimizing PR activity. Using proteomics analysis, we found that uterine levels of peroxiredoxin-6 (PRDX6), a unique antioxidant, are significantly lower in Fkbp52(-/-) mice than in WT and PR-null (Pgr(-/-)) mice. We also found that Fkbp52(-/-) mice with reduced uterine PRDX6 levels are susceptible to paraquat-induced oxidative stress (OS), leading to implantation failure even with P(4) supplementation. The same dose of paraquat did not interfere with implantation in WT mice. Moreover, treatment with antioxidants alpha-tocopherol and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) attenuated paraquat-induced implantation failure in P(4)-treated Fkbp52(-/-) mice. Functional analyses using mouse embryonic fibroblasts show that Fkbp52 deficiency associated with reduced PRDX6 levels promotes H(2)O(2)-induced cell death, which is reversed by the addition of NAC or by forced expression of PRDX6, suggesting that Fkbp52 deficiency diminishes the threshold against OS by reducing PRDX6 levels. These findings provide evidence that heightened uterine OS in Fkbp52(-/-) females with reduced PRDX6 levels induces implantation failure even in the presence of excess P(4). This study shows that FKBP52-PRDX6 signaling protects pregnancy from overt OS.
Cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2, PLA2G4A) catalyzes the release of arachidonic acid for prostaglandin synthesis by cyclooxygenase 1 (PTGS1) and cyclooxygenase 2 (PTGS2). Mice with Pla2g4a deficiency have parturition delay and other reproductive deficits, including deferred onset of implantation, crowding of implantation sites, and small litters. In this study, we examined the contribution of PLA2G4A to parturition in mice. Pla2g4a mRNA and protein expression were discretely localized in the term and preterm uterine luminal epithelium and colocalized with Ptgs1, but not Ptgs2, expression. The levels of PGE2, PGF2alpha, 6-keto-PGF1alpha, and TxB2 were significantly decreased in Pla2g4a-null uterine tissues, similar to Ptgs1-null uteri, consistent with predominance of PLA2G4A-PTGS1-mediated prostaglandin synthesis in preparation for murine parturition. Litter size was strongly associated with the timing of parturition in Pla2g4a-null mice but could not fully account for the parturition delay. Pla2g4a-null females that received PGE2 + carbaprostacyclin at the time of implantation delivered earlier (20.5 +/- 0.2 days vs. 21.6 +/- 0.2 days, P < 0.01), although litter size was not improved (4.6 vs. 4.4 pups per litter, P = 0.6). After correction for small litter size, multivariate analysis indicated that Pla2g4a-null mice given prostaglandin treatment to improve implantation timing had gestational length that was similar to wild-type and Pla2g4a heterozygous mice. These results indicate that, despite specific Pla2g4a expression and function in term gestation uteri, the delayed parturition phenotype in Pla2g4a-null mice is primarily due to deferral of implantation. The role of PLA2G4A in timely parturition appears to be critically related to its actions in early pregnancy.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether the conceptus directs the formation of a tight- and adherens-dependent permeability barrier formed by the primary decidual zone and normal progression of decidual cell differentiation during embryo implantation. Four artificial models of decidualization were used, some apparently more physiological than others. The results show that both the formation of the permeability barrier and decidual cell differentiation of three of the artificial models were quite different from that of pregnant uteri. One artificial model of decidualization, namely pseudopregnant animals receiving concanavalin A-coated Sepharose bead transfers on d 2.5 of pseudopregnancy, better recapitulated the decidual changes that occur in the pregnant uterus undergoing decidualization. This included the formation of a primary decidual zone-like permeability barrier and decidual growth. This model also exhibited similar temporal changes of the expression of genes involved in decidualization that are markers of decidual cell differentiation. Overall, the results of this study indicate that some models of inducing decidualization artificially produce responses that are more similar to those occurring in the pregnant uterus, whereas others are quite different. More importantly, the results suggest that concanavalin A-coated Sepharose beads can provide an equivalent stimulus as the trophectoderm to cause the formation of the primary decidual zone permeability barrier.
Molecular events involved in successful embryo implantation are not well understood. In this study, we used MALDI imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) technologies to characterize the spatial and temporal distribution of phospholipid species associated with mouse embryo implantation. Molecular images showing phospholipid distribution within implantation sites changed markedly between distinct cellular areas during days 4-8 of pregnancy. For example, by day 8, linoleate- and docosahexaenoate-containing phospholipids localized to regions destined to undergo cell death, whereas oleate-containing phospholipids localized to angiogenic regions. Arachidonate-containing phospholipids showed different segregation patterns depending on the lipid class, revealing a strong correlation of phosphatidylethanolamines and phosphatidylinositols with cytosolic phospholipase A(2alpha) and cyclooxygenase-2 during embryo implantation. LC-ESI-MS/MS was used to validate MALDI IMS phospholipid distribution patterns. Overall, molecular images revealed the dynamic complexity of lipid distributions in early pregnancy, signifying the importance of complex interplay of lipid molecules in uterine biology and implantation.