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Mol Endocrinol. 2015 Jun;29(6):882-95. doi: 10.1210/me.2014-1363. Epub 2015 Apr 15.

Roles of progesterone receptor A and B isoforms during human endometrial decidualization.

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Departments of Molecular and Integrative Physiology (H.S.K., A.M.H., M.K.B.), Cell and Developmental Biology (L.J.S.), and Comparative Biosciences (I.C.B.), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801; and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (R.N.T.), Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157.


Progesterone, acting through the progesterone receptors (PGRs), is one of the most critical regulators of endometrial differentiation, known as decidualization, which is a key step toward the establishment of pregnancy. Yet a long-standing unresolved issue in uterine biology is the precise roles played by the major PGR isoforms, PGR-A and PGR-B, during decidualization in the human. Our approach, expressing PGR-A and PGR-B individually after silencing endogenous PGRs in human endometrial stromal cells (HESCs), enabled the analysis of the roles of these isoforms separately as well as jointly. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing in combination with gene expression profiling revealed that PGR-B controls a substantially larger cistrome and transcriptome than PGR-A during HESC differentiation. Interestingly, PGR-B directly regulates the expression of PGR-A. De novo motif analysis indicated that, although the 2 isoforms bind to the same DNA sequence motif, there are both common and unique neighboring motifs where other transcription factors, such as FOSL1/2, JUN, C/EBPβ, and STAT3, bind and dictate the transcriptional activities of these isoforms. We found that PGR-A and PGR-B regulate overlapping as well as distinct sets of genes, many of which are known to be critical for decidualization and establishment of pregnancy. When PGR-A and PGR-B were coexpressed during HESC differentiation, PGR-B played a predominant role, although both isoforms influenced each other's transcriptional activity. This study revealed the gene networks that operate downstream of each PGR isoform to mediate critical functions, such as regulation of the cell cycle, angiogenesis, lysosomal activation, insulin receptor signaling, and apoptosis, during decidualization in the human.

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