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Endocrinology. 2009 Nov;150(11):5065-73. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-0690. Epub 2009 Oct 1.

In pursuit of leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor-5 regulation and function in the uterus.

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Division of Reproductive Sciences, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.


Leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor (LGR)-5 is a recently identified marker of stem cells in adult intestinal epithelium and hair follicles. Because of this characteristic, we studied the status of Lgr5 expression in the mouse uterus under various conditions. Lgr5 is highly expressed in the uterine epithelium of immature mice and is dramatically down-regulated after the mice resume estrous cycles. Surprisingly, whereas its expression is up-regulated in uteri of ovariectomized mice, the expression is down-regulated by estrogen and progesterone via their cognate nuclear receptors, estrogen receptor-alpha and progesterone receptor, respectively. Using a mouse endometrial cancer model, we also found that Lgr5 is highly expressed in the epithelium during the initial stages of tumorigenesis but is remarkably down-regulated in fully developed tumors. Lgr5 is a downstream target of Wnt signaling in the intestine. Genetic evidence shows that either excessive or absence of Wnt signaling dampens Lgr5 expression in the uterus. Collectively, our results show that Lgr5 expression in the mouse uterine epithelium is unique and dynamically regulated under various physiological and pathological states of the uterus, suggesting that this orphan receptor has important functions in uterine biology. However, identifying definitive uterine function of LGR5 will require further investigation using conditional deletion of uterine Lgr5 because systemic deletion of this gene is neonatally lethal.

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