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J Reprod Fertil Suppl. 1999;54:329-39.

Mechanism of action of interferon-tau in the uterus during early pregnancy.

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  • 1Department of Animal Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie 82071, USA.


Early pregnancy is maintained in ruminants through the actions of conceptus-derived interferon (IFN)-tau on the endometrium. IFN-tau alters uterine release of PGF2 alpha' which results in rescue of the corpus luteum and continued release of progesterone. The mechanism of action of IFN-tau includes inhibition of oestradiol receptors, consequent reduction in oxytocin receptors, activation of a cyclooxygenase inhibitor, and a shift in the PGs to favour PGE2 over PGF2 alpha' IFN-tau also induces several endometrial proteins that may be critical for survival of the developing embryo. One endometrial protein induced by pregnancy and IFN-tau has been identified as bovine granulocyte chemotactic protein-2 (bGCP-2). This chemotactic cytokine (chemokine) has been used as a marker to delineate IFN-tau from IFN-alpha responses in the endometrium. A second protein, called ubiquitin cross-reactive protein (UCRP), resembles a tandem ubiquitin repeat. UCRP becomes conjugated to cytosolic endometrial proteins in response to IFN-tau and pregnancy. Proteins conjugated to UCRP are either modulated or targeted for processing through the proteasome. The action of IFN-tau is mediated by induction of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT-1), STAT-2 and interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) transcription factors. Induction of these transcription factors, the alpha chemokines and UCRP is the prelude to maternal recognition of pregnancy in ruminants.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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