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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Nov 13;104(46):18315-20. Epub 2007 Nov 6.

Maternal heparin-binding-EGF deficiency limits pregnancy success in mice.

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Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


An intimate discourse between the blastocyst and uterus is essential for successful implantation. However, the molecular basis of this interaction is not clearly understood. Exploiting genomic Hbegf mutant mice, we show here that maternal deficiency of heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) defers on-time implantation, leading to compromised pregnancy outcome. We also demonstrate that amphiregulin, but not epiregulin, partially compensates for the loss of HB-EGF during implantation. In search of the mechanism of this compensation, we found that reduced preimplantation estrogen secretion from ovarian HB-EGF deficiency is a cause of sustained expression of uterine amphiregulin before the initiation of implantation. To explore the significance specifically of uterine HB-EGF in implantation, we examined this event in mice with conditional deletion of uterine HB-EGF and found that this specific loss of HB-EGF in the uterus still defers on-time implantation without altering preimplantation ovarian estrogen secretion. The observation of normal induction of uterine amphiregulin surrounding the blastocyst at the time of attachment in these conditional mutant mice suggests a compensatory role of amphiregulin for uterine loss of HB-EGF, preventing complete failure of pregnancy. Our study provides genetic evidence that HB-EGF is critical for normal implantation. This finding has high clinical relevance, because HB-EGF signaling is known to be important for human implantation.

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