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Mol Endocrinol. 2012 Jan;26(1):203-17. doi: 10.1210/me.2011-1196. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Research resource: interactome of human embryo implantation: identification of gene expression pathways, regulation, and integrated regulatory networks.

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Department of Clinical Science Intervention, and Technology, Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, 14186 Stockholm, Sweden.


A prerequisite for successful embryo implantation is adequate preparation of receptive endometrium and the establishment and maintenance of a viable embryo. The success of implantation further relies upon a two-way dialogue between the embryo and uterus. However, molecular bases of these preimplantation and implantation processes in humans are not well known. We performed genome expression analyses of human embryos (n = 128) and human endometria (n = 8). We integrated these data with protein-protein interactions in order to identify molecular networks within the endometrium and the embryo, and potential embryo-endometrium interactions at the time of implantation. For that, we applied a novel network profiling algorithm HyperModules, which combines topological module identification and functional enrichment analysis. We found a major wave of transcriptional down-regulation in preimplantation embryos. In receptive-stage endometrium, several genes and signaling pathways were identified, including JAK-STAT signaling and inflammatory pathways. The main curated embryo-endometrium interaction network highlighted the importance of cell adhesion molecules in the implantation process. We also identified cytokine-cytokine receptor interactions involved in implantation, where osteopontin (SPP1), leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and leptin (LEP) pathways were intertwining. Further, we identified a number of novel players in human embryo-endometrium interactions, such as apolipoprotein D (APOD), endothelin 1 (END1), fibroblast growth factor 7 (FGF7), gastrin (GAST), kringle containing trnasmembrane protein 1 (KREMEN1), neuropilin 1 (NRP1), serpin peptidase inhibitor clade A member 3 (SERPINA3), versican (VCAN), and others. Our findings provide a fundamental resource for better understanding of the genetic network that leads to successful embryo implantation. We demonstrate the first systems biology approach into the complex molecular network of the implantation process in humans.

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