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Dev Dyn. 2001 Nov;222(3):538-44.

Maternal Hoxa10 is required for pinopod formation in the development of mouse uterine receptivity to embryo implantation.

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Yale University School of Medicine, Laboratory of Developmental Endocrinology, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8063, USA.


Hoxa10 is a homeobox gene that is expressed both during the embryogenesis of the genitourinary tract and in the adult reproductive tract. Maternal Hoxa10 expression is necessary for endometrial receptivity to blastocyst implantation. The mechanism by which Hoxa10 induces endometrial development to a state of receptivity is unknown as HOXA10-deficient endometrium appears histologically normal. We altered the expression of Hoxa10 in the uterus of cycling adult female mice and examined the uterus at the time of implantation by transmission electron microscopy for alterations in epithelial morphology. Pinopods are projections on the surface of the uterine endometrial epithelial cells that develop transiently at the time of endometrial receptivity. Blocking Hoxa10 expression by transfection of Hoxa10 antisense into the cycling mouse uterus before implantation dramatically decreased pinopod number. Constitutively expressing Hoxa10 in the uterus just before the normal time of pinopod formation resulted in increased pinopod number. Therefore, Hoxa10 is necessary for pinopod development. Hox genes have been implicated in both the regulation of cellular proliferation and the determination of developmental fate. Hoxa10 exemplifies this dual role in the uterus by regulating both endometrial stromal cell proliferation and epithelial cell morphogenesis. Taken together, these results demonstrate that maternal Hoxa10 has an essential role in pinopod development and this function of Hoxa10 likely contributes to endometrial receptivity for the purpose of blastocyst implantation.

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