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Biol Reprod. 2011 Feb;84(2):308-19. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.110.088161. Epub 2010 Oct 20.

WNTs in the neonatal mouse uterus: potential regulation of endometrial gland development.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Carbondale, Illinois 62901, USA. khayashi@siumed.edu


The WNTs are secreted proteins that control essential developmental processes, such as embryonic patterning, cell growth, migration, and differentiation. In mice, three members of the Wnt gene family (Wnt4, Wnt5a, and Wnt7a) have been studied extensively in the female reproductive tract. The present study determined effects of postnatal day and exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) on Wnt and Fzd gene expression in the mouse uterus as well as the biological role of Wnt11 in postnatal mouse uterine development and function. Wnt4, Wnt5a, Wnt7a, Wnt7b, Wnt11, Wnt16, Fzd6, and Fzd10 were detected by in situ hybridization in the neonatal mouse uterus. In situ hybridization analyses revealed that Wnt4, Wnt5a, and Wnt16 were localized in the endometrial stroma, whereas Wnt7a, Wnt7b, Wnt11, Fzd6, and Fzd10 were in the uterine epithelia of neonatal mice. Exposure of mice to estrogen or estrogen receptor agonists during critical development periods inhibits endometrial adenogenesis. In the present study, DES-induced disruption of endometrial gland development was associated with reduction or suppression of Wnt4, Wnt5a, Wnt7a, Wnt11, Wnt16, and Fzd10. Ablation of Wnt11, an epithelial-expressed, DES-regulated gene, in the neonatal uterus did not affect endometrial adenogenesis or expression of other Wnt genes. Interestingly, Wnt11-deleted uteri had more endometrial glands on Postnatal Day 10. Although CTNNB1 expression was not affected by ablation of Wnt11, Vangl2 was inhibited in the uteri of Wnt11(d/d) mice. These results support the idea that a number of different Wnt genes are potential regulators for uterine morphogenesis; however, Wnt11 does not have a direct effect on uterine development.

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