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J Mol Endocrinol. 2005 Jun;34(3):889-908.

Gene expression profiling of bovine endometrium during the oestrous cycle: detection of molecular pathways involved in functional changes.

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Institute of Molecular Animal Breeding, Gene Center of the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Feodor-Lynen-Str. 25, 81377 Munich, Germany.


The endometrium plays a central role among the reproductive tissues in the context of early embryo-maternal communication and pregnancy. It undergoes typical changes during the sexual/oestrous cycle, which are regulated by the ovarian hormones progesterone and oestrogen. To identify the underlying molecular mechanisms we have performed the first holistic screen of transcriptome changes in bovine intercaruncular endometrium at two stages of the cycle--end of day 0 (late oestrus, low progesterone) and day 12 (dioestrus, high progesterone). A combination of subtracted cDNA libraries and cDNA array hybridisation revealed 133 genes showing at least a 2-fold change of their mRNA abundance, 65 with higher levels at oestrus and 68 at dioestrus. Interestingly, genes were identified which showed differential expression between different uterine sections as well. The most prominent example was the UTMP (uterine milk protein) mRNA, which was markedly upregulated in the cranial part of the ipsilateral uterine horn at oestrus. A Gene Ontology classification of the genes with known function characterised the oestrus time by elevated expression of genes, for example related to cell adhesion, cell motility and extracellular matrix and the dioestrus time by higher expression of mRNAs encoding for a variety of enzymes and transport proteins, in particular ion channels. Searching in pathway databases and literature data-mining revealed physiological processes and signalling cascades, e.g. the transforming growth factor-beta signalling pathway and retinoic acid signalling, which are potentially involved in the regulation of changes of the endometrium during the oestrous cycle.

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