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Genes Dev. 1998 Jul 15;12(14):2234-43.

Maternal IL-11Ralpha function is required for normal decidua and fetoplacental development in mice.

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Institut für Genetik, Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.


In eutherian mammals, implantation and establishment of the chorioallantoic placenta are essential for embryo development and survival. As a maternal response to implantation, uterine stromal cells proliferate, differentiate, and generate the decidua, which encapsulates the conceptus and forms the maternal part of the placenta. Little is known about decidual functions and the molecular interactions that regulate its development and maintenance. Here we show that the receptor for the cytokine interleukin-11 (IL-11Ralpha) is required specifically for normal establishment of the decidua. Females homozygous for a hypomorphic IL-11Ralpha allele are fertile and their blastocysts implant and elicit the decidual response. Because of reduced cell proliferation, however, only small deciduae form. Mutant deciduae degenerate progressively, and consequently embryo-derived trophoblast cells generate a network of trophoblast giant cells but fail to form a chorioallantoic placenta, indicating that the decidua is essential for normal fetoplacentation. IL-11Ralpha is expressed in the decidua as well as in numerous other tissues and cell types, including the ovary and lymphocytes. The differentiation state and proliferative responses of B and T-lymphocytes in mutant females were normal, and wild-type females carrying IL-11Ralpha mutant ovaries had normal deciduae, suggesting that the decidualization defects do not arise secondarily as a consequence of perturbed IL-11Ralpha signaling defects in lymphoid organs or in the ovary. Therefore, IL-11Ralpha signaling at the implantation site appears to be required for decidua development.

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