Cell adhesion in endometrial epithelium is regulated to maintain the continuity and protectiveness of the luminal covering cell layer while permitting interstitial implantation of the embryo during a restricted period of about 4 days. Many apparently normal embryos fail to implant, and epithelial-embryo adhesion remains a poorly understood phenomenon. After menstruation, epithelial regeneration occurs by epiboly from the basal residues of glands, an activity that requires migration on extracellular matrix as well as cell-cell cohesion. Here we review current knowledge of adhesion molecules in the epithelium.
The anti-implantation effects of high oestradiol (E-2) concentrations could be mediated by E-2 metabolites. Herein, we examined whether 2-methoxyoestradiol (2ME) impairs embryo implantation via its target protein F-spondin. Mice on Day 3 of pregnancy were treated with E-2 concomitantly with the cathecol-O-methyl transferase inhibitor OR486 and the number of implanted embryos was recorded 5 days later. The effect of 2ME or 4-methoxyoestradiol (4ME) on embryo implantation was also investigated. Plasma and uterine levels of 2ME were measured 0.5, 1 or 3h after E-2 treatment while the mRNA for spondin 1 (Spon1) and F-spondin were determined in the uterus 3, 6, 12 or 24h after 2ME treatment. Finally, the effect of a neutralising F-spondin antibody on the anti-implantation effect of 2ME was explored. OR486 blocked the anti-implantation effect of E-2; 2ME, but not 4ME, affected embryo implantation. The 2ME concentration was increased after 0.5 and 1h in plasma and 3h in uterine fluid following E-2 treatment. 2ME increased levels of Spon1 at 12 and 24h although F-spondin was increased at 12h. F-spondin antibody blocked the effect of 2ME on embryo implantation. We conclude that 2ME impairs mouse embryo implantation via activation of F-spondin in the uterus.
Successful embryo implantation requires a receptive endometrium. Poor uterine receptivity can account for implantation failure in women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss or multiple rounds of unsuccessful in vitro fertilization cycles. Here, we demonstrate that the transcription factor Forkhead Box O1 (FOXO1) is a critical regulator of endometrial receptivity in vivo. Uterine ablation of Foxo1 using the progesterone receptor Cre (Pgr(cre)) mouse model resulted in infertility due to altered epithelial cell polarity and apoptosis, preventing the embryo from penetrating the luminal epithelium. Analysis of the uterine transcriptome after Foxo1 ablation identified alterations in gene expression for transcripts involved in the activation of cell invasion, molecular transport, apoptosis, beta-catenin (CTNNB1) signaling pathway, and an increase in PGR signaling. The increase of PGR signaling was due to PGR expression being retained in the uterine epithelium during the window of receptivity. Constitutive expression of epithelial PGR during this receptive period inhibited expression of FOXO1 in the nucleus of the uterine epithelium. The reciprocal expression of PGR and FOXO1 was conserved in human endometrial samples during the proliferative and secretory phase. This demonstrates that expression of FOXO1 and the loss of PGR during the window of receptivity are interrelated and critical for embryo implantation.
Background MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, highly conserved small noncoding RNAs that had fundamental roles in post-transcriptional gene expression, and they are crucial for proper control of biological processes and known to participate in embryo implantation. However, miRNA expression profiles in the pre-receptive and receptive phases of the goat endometrium during embryo implantation are unknown. Results A total of 1,069 and 847 miRNAs were expressed in receptive (R) and pre-receptive (P) goat endometrium, and 632 miRNAs were co-expressed in both phases. We identified 545 (50.98%) known miRNAs in the R library and 522 (61.63%) in the P library. There were 110 up-expressed miRNAs and 33 down-expressed miRNAs in receptive endometrium compared with the pre-receptive endometrium meeting the criteria of P-values<0.05. Moreover, GO and KEGG analysis of the target genes of the differentially expressed miRNAs revealed some candidate miRNAs, genes and pathways that may involve in the formation of the receptive endometrium. Based on stem-loop RT-qPCR, 15 miRNAs were detected and the results suggested that the majority of the miRNA expression data measured by Solexa deep sequencing could represent actual miRNA expression levels. Conclusions Our data revealed the first miRNA profile related to the biology of the goat receptive endometrium during embryo implantation, and the results suggested that a subset of miRNAs might play important roles in the formation of endometrial receptivity. Thus, elucidating the physiological roles of endometrial miRNAs will help us better understand the genetic control of embryo implantation in goats.
Ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase phosphodiesterase 3 (ENPP3), a protein detected in the human uterus, has been found to play an important role in the development and invasion of tumours. It was recently discovered that ENPP3 was upregulated during the window of implantation in the human endometrium but its functional relevance remains elusive. The objective was to determine ENPP3 expression in human endometrium and its roles in endometrial receptivity and embryo implantation. ENPP3 expression was analysed using immunohistochemistry and western blot assay. The effects of ENPP3 on embryo implantation were evaluated using a BeWo cell (a human choriocarcinoma cell line) spheroid attachment assay and BeWo cells were dual cultured with Ishikawa cells transfected with lentiviral vectors (LV5-NC or LV5-ENPP3) to mimic embryo implantation in a Transwell model. The effects of endometrial ENPP3 on factors related to endometrial receptivity were also determined. The results showed that ENPP3 was expressed in human endometrial epithelial cells and its expression levels changed during the menstrual cycle, peaking in the mid-secretory phase, corresponding to the time of embryo implantation. The overexpression of endometrial ENPP3 not only increased the embryo implantation rate but also had positive effects on the expression of factors related to endometrial receptivity in human endometrial cells. The results indicate that ENPP3 levels undergo cyclic changes in the endometrium and affect embryo adhesion and invasion via altering the expression of implantation factors in the human endometrium. Therefore, ENPP3 may play an important role in embryo implantation and may be a unique biomarker of endometrial receptivity.
Ultrasonography is a powerful tool to non-invasively monitor in real time the development of the human fetus in utero. Although genetically engineered mice have served as valuable in vivo models to study both embryo implantation and pregnancy progression, such studies usually require sacrifice of parous mice for subsequent phenotypic analysis. To address this issue, we used three-dimensional (3-D) reconstruction in silico of high-frequency ultrasound (HFUS) imaging data for early detection and characterization of murine embryo implantation sites and their development in utero. With HFUS imaging followed by 3-D reconstruction, we were able to precisely quantify embryo implantation site number and embryonic developmental progression in pregnant C57BL6J/129S mice from as early as 5.5 days post coitus (d.p.c.) through to 9.5 d.p.c. using a VisualSonics Vevo 2100 (MS550S) transducer. In addition to measurements of implantation site number, location, volume and spacing, embryo viability via cardiac activity monitoring was also achieved. A total of 12 dams were imaged with HFUS with approximately 100 embryos examined per embryonic day. For the post implantation period (5.5 to 8.5 d.p.c.), 3-D reconstruction of the gravid uterus in mesh or solid overlay format enabled visual representation in silico of implantation site location, number, spacing distances, and site volume within each uterine horn. Therefore, this short technical report describes the feasibility of using 3-D HFUS imaging for early detection and analysis of post-implantation events in the pregnant mouse with the ability to longitudinally monitor the development of these early pregnancy events in a non-invasive manner. As genetically engineered mice continue to be used to characterize female reproductive phenotypes, we believe this reliable and non-invasive method to detect, quantify, and characterize early implantation events will prove to be an invaluable investigative tool for the study of female infertility and subfertility phenotypes based on a defective uterus.
GRIM-19 is associated with apoptosis, abnormal proliferation, immune tolerance and malignant transformation, and it also plays an important role in early embryonic development. Although the homologous deletion of GRIM-19 causes embryonic lethality in mice, the precise role of GRIM-19 in embryo implantation has not been elucidated. Here we show that GRIM-19 plays an important role in endometrial receptivity and embryo implantation. Day 1 to Day 6 pregnant mouse uteri were collected. Immunohistochemistry studies revealed the presence of GRIM-19 on the luminal epithelium and glandular epithelium throughout the implantation period in pregnant mice. The protein and mRNA levels of GRIM-19 were markedly decreased on Day 4 of pregnancy in pregnant mice, but there was no change in GRIM-19 levels in a group of pseudopregnant mice. Overexpression of GRIM-19 decreased the adhesion rate of RL95-2-BeWo co-cultured spheroids and increased apoptosis. Furthermore, STAT3 and IL-11 mRNA and protein levels were reduced by overexpressing GRIM-19, but protein and mRNA levels of TNF-alpha were increased. These findings indicate the involvement of GRIM-19 in the embryo implantation process by regulating adhesion, apoptosis and immune tolerance.