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Biol Reprod. 2001 Mar;64(3):857-64.

Regulation of cyclic guanosine monophosphate-dependent protein kinase in human uterine tissues during the menstrual cycle.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-0019, USA. cornwell@path.uab.edu


Contractility of uterine smooth muscle is essential for the cyclic shedding of the endometrial lining and also for expulsion of the fetus during parturition. The nitric oxide (NO)-cGMP signaling pathway is involved in smooth muscle relaxation. The downstream target of this pathway essential for decreasing cytoplasmic calcium and muscle tone is the cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG). The present study was undertaken to localize expression of PKG in tissues of the female reproductive tract and to test the hypothesis that uterine smooth muscle PKG levels vary with the human menstrual cycle. Immunohistochemistry was used to localize PKG in myometrium, cervix, and endometrium obtained during proliferative and secretory phases. The PKG was localized to uterine and vascular smooth muscle cells in myometrium, stromal cells in endometrium, and a small percentage of cervical stromal cells. Using Western blot analysis and protein kinase activity assays, the expression of PKG was reduced significantly in progesterone-dominated uteri compared with myometrium from postmenopausal women or women in the proliferative phase. These findings support a role for PKG in the control of uterine and vascular smooth muscle contractility during the menstrual cycle.

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