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Adherens junction proteins in the hamster uterus: their contributions to the success of implantation.

Luan L, Ding T, Stinnett A, Reese J, Paria BC
Biol Reprod. 2011 85 (5): 996-1004

PMID: 21753191 · PMCID: PMC3197917 · DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.110.090126

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.

MeSH Terms (20)

Adherens Junctions alpha Catenin Animals beta Catenin Cadherins Cell Adhesion Cricetinae Embryo Implantation Embryonic Development Epithelium Female Mesocricetus Metalloendopeptidases Mice Mice, Inbred Strains Models, Animal Pregnancy RNA, Messenger Signal Transduction Uterus

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