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Eur J Cell Biol. 1991 Jun;55(1):133-42.

Expression of different connexin genes in rat uterus during decidualization and at term.

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Institut für Anatomie der Universität, Essen/Bundesrepublik Deutschland.


The expression of different connexin genes (cx26, cx32, cx37, cx43) that code for the protein subunits of gap junctions, was investigated in various uterine tissues during the estrous cycle of nonpregnant rats, in pregnant rats at decidualization and at term. Connexin gene expression was studied at the mRNA level by Northern blot hybridization and at the protein level by immunocytochemistry. In gap junctions from uterine epithelium, stroma, or myometrium, connexin 26 and/or connexin 43 are much more abundant than connexins 32 and 37. The expression of connexin 26 and 43 appears to be modulated by maternal steroid hormones. High expression of these connexins is found in developing decidual cells by day 7 to 8 post coitum; furthermore, coexpression of connexins 26 and 43 in myometrium is observed just before delivery on day 21 post coitum. In both the decidua and the myometrium, the connexin 26 protein appears to be distributed in lower abundance than connexin 43. In uterine epithelium only connexin 26 is expressed throughout all of the reproductive phases investigated. The enhanced expression of this gene correlates with higher levels of maternal estrogen both in the proestrus/estrus phase and at term. The distinct spatial and temporal pattern of expression of connexins 26 and 43 in different uterine tissues suggests a physiological role for these proteins during embryo implantation and subsequent contraction of the uterus at birth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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