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J Biol Chem. 1982 Jun 25;257(12):6886-97.

Purification and properties of a progesterone-induced plasmin/trypsin inhibitor from uterine secretions of pigs and its immunocytochemical localization in the pregnant uterus.


The porcine uterus secretes a group of basic, low molecular weight protease inhibitors under the influence of progesterone, but not estrogen. One of these inhibitors (Mr approximately 14,500) which inhibits trypsin, plasmin, and chymotrypsin, but not other proteases tested, has been purified 10- to 15-fold from uterine secretions of pseudopregnant pigs using Sephadex G-100 chromatography, CM-cellulose ion exchange chromatography, and Sephadex G-50 or Bio-Gel P-10 chromatography. The inhibitor which is relatively heat- and pH-stable forms a 1:1 molar complex with trypsin which is not dissociated in sodium dodecyl sulfate except by boiling. Chymotrypsin appears to bind at the same site on the inhibitor as trypsin. The inhibitor is high in half-cysteine residues and basic amino acids, and appears not to be a glycoprotein. Antiserum has been raised against the purified inhibitor in rabbits and used to test its distribution in pigs using the immunoperoxidase-staining technique on tissue sections. The inhibitor is associated only with the glandular and surface epithelium of the uterus. Endometrial explants from pseudopregnant animals, cultured in presence of L-[3H]leucine, release the inhibitor in radioactive form indicating that it is a uterine product. The antiserum against the inhibitor cross-reacts with at least three other, basic, low molecular weights plasmin/trypsin inhibitors in porcine uterine secretions, suggesting that a family of isoinhibitors exists which may constitute up to 15% of the protein in porcine uterine secretions. The inhibitor(s) appears to coat and to be taken up by the trophoectoderm cells of the elongating blastocyst during pregnancy. It is suggested that the inhibitors may serve to protect the uterus from proteases released by the porcine trophoblast or to prevent degradation of essential macromolecules, such as uteroferrin, which have to be taken up by the conceptus.

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