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Dev Biol. 2006 Jun 15;294(2):445-56. Epub 2006 Apr 17.

Post-implantation mouse conceptuses produce paracrine signals that regulate the uterine endometrium undergoing decidualization.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.


The uterus undergoes a series of dramatic changes in response to an implanting conceptus that, in some mammalian species, includes differentiation of the endometrial stroma into decidual tissue. This process, called decidualization, can be induced artificially in rodents indicating that the conceptus may not be essential for a proper maternal response in early pregnancy. In order to test this hypothesis, we determined if and how the conceptus affects uterine gene expression. We identified 5 genes (Angpt1, Angpt2, Dtprp, G1p2 and Prlpa) whose steady-state levels in the uterus undergoing decidualization depends on the presence of a conceptus. In situ hybridization revealed region-specific effects which suggested that various components of the conceptus and more than one signal from the conceptus are likely responsible for altering decidual cell function. Using cell culture models we found that trophoblast giant cells secrete a type I interferon-like molecule which can induce G1p2 expression in endometrial stromal cells. Finally, decidual Prlpa expression was reduced in the uterus adjacent to Hand1- and Ets2-deficient embryos, suggesting that normal trophoblast giant cells in the placenta are required for the conceptus-dependent effects on Prlpa expression in the mesometrial decidua. Overall, these results provide support for the hypothesis that molecular signals from the mouse conceptus have local effects on uterine gene expression during decidualization.

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