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Li-Juan Xiao, Jin-Xiang Yuan, Xin-Xin Song, Yin-Chuan Li, Zhao-Yuan Hu, and Yi-Xun Liu

Stanniocalcin-1 (STC-1) is a recently discovered polypeptide hormone, while stanniocalcin-2 (STC-2) is a subsequently identified homologue of stanniocalcin-1. Although previous studies have shown that both STC-1 and -2 are involved in various physiological processes, such as ion transport, reproduction and development, their expression in the uterus and roles in implantation and early pregnancy are unclear. Here we have investigated the expression and regulation of both STC-1 and STC-2 in rat uterus during early pregnancy under various physiological conditions. We show that only basal levels of STC-1 and STC-2 mRNA were detected in the uterus from day one (D1) to day five (D5) of pregnancy. STC-2 immunostaining was gradually increased in the glandular epithelium from day two (D2), with a peak occurring on D5. High levels of both STC-1 and STC-2 mRNA were observed in the stoma cells at the implantation site on day six (D6) of pregnancy, whereas their immunostaining signals were also significant in the luminal epithelium. Basal levels of both STC-1 and STC-2 mRNA and STC-1 immunostaining were detected in the uterus with delayed implantation. After the delayed implantation was terminated by estrogen treatment, both STC-1 and STC-2 mRNA signals were significantly induced in the stroma underlying the luminal epithelium at the implantation site, and STC-2 immunostaining was also observed in the luminal epithelium surrounding the implanting blastocyst. Embryo transfer experiments further confirmed that STC-1 and STC-2 expression at the implantation sites was induced by the implanting blastocyst. Both STC-1 mRNA and immunostaining were seen in the decidualized cells from day seven (D7) to day nine (D9) of pregnancy. STC-2 mRNA was also found in the whole decidua from D7 to D9 of pregnancy; STC-2 protein, however, was strictly localized to the primary deciduas on D7 and D8, with a weak expression in the whole deciduas on D9. Consistent with the normal pregnancy process, strong STC-1 and STC-2 mRNA signals were detected in the decidualized cells under artificial decidualization, whereas only basal levels of STC-1 mRNA and immunostaining were observed in the control horn. These data suggest, for the first time, that STC-1 together with STC-2 may play important roles in the processes of implantation and decidualization in the rat.

Free access

Kien C Luu, Gui Ying Nie, Anne Hampton, Guo-Qiang Fu, Yi-Xun Liu, and Lois A Salamonsen

The endometrium is hostile to embryo implantation except during the ‘window of receptivity’. A change in endometrial gene expression is required for the development of receptivity. Calbindin-d9k (CaBP-d9k) and calbindin-d28k (CaBP-d28k) are proteins possessing EF-hand motifs which have high affinity for Ca2+ ions. Previously, it has been demonstrated that, in mouse endometrium, the expression of both calbindins is highly regulated during implantation and that both proteins play critical but functionally redundant roles at implantation. This study was the first to determine the expression of these two calbindins in the human and rhesus monkey endometrium. Initial RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that CaBP-d28k but not CaBP-d9k mRNA expression is detectable in the endometrium of both species. Western blot analysis confirmed the presence of immuno-reactive CaBP-d28k protein in the primate endometrium. Furthermore, the endometrial expression pattern of CaBP-d28k mRNA and protein was examined by Northern blot analysis and immunohistochemistry respectively in both species across the menstrual cycle and during early pregnancy. Semi-quantitative statistical analysis of the immunohistochemistry results revealed that, in the human, CaBP-d28k protein expression was maximal in luminal and glandular epithelium during the mid-secretory phase, coinciding with the time when the endometrium is receptive to embryo implantation. Expression in rhesus monkey showed a similar trend. These results suggest that, in the primate endometrium, only CaBP-d28k is expressed and that the specific regulation of this calbindin is potentially important for the establishment of uterine receptivity.

Free access

Xiaoli Qin, Yan Chen, Jiangjing Yuan, Xiaorui Liu, Weihong Zeng, and Yi Lin

Abnormal growth and migration of trophoblast cells is one of the main causes of spontaneous abortion. Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A (eIF5A) plays an important role in trophoblast cell growth and migration; however, its underlying mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we first confirmed that eIF5A knockdown reduced human chorionic trophoblast HTR8 cells viability, proliferation, and migration. Next, we sought to systematically identify the genes regulated by eIF5A and observed changes in the transcriptome profile of eIF5A-knockdown HTR8 cells by RNA-seq analysis. Especially, we found that inhibition of eIF5A reduced both the mRNA and protein levels of methyltransferase-like protein 14 (METTL14). Furthermore, inhibition of METTL14 expression resulted in the reduction of viability, proliferation, and migration of HTR8 cells. In addition, we showed that overexpression of METTL14 rescued the effects of eIF5A knockdown in HTR8 cells. Finally, we revealed that eIF5A and METTL14 expression was decreased in spontaneous abortion samples compared to that in elective-induced abortion samples. Collectively, our study demonstrated that eIF5A plays a crucial role in HTR8 cells via modulation of METTL14 expression and may serve as a novel potential target for spontaneous abortion diagnosis and treatment.

Free access

Xiaoxu Chen, Qian Sun, Yi Zheng, Zidong Liu, Xiangqian Meng, Wenxian Zeng, and Hongzhao Lu

Infertility caused by male factors is routinely diagnosed by assessing traditional semen parameters. Growing evidence has indicated that the tsRNAs carried in sperm act as epigenetic factors and potential biomarkers for the assessment of sperm quality. We recently demonstrated that tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs played notable roles in the first cleavage of a porcine embryo. However, the function of human sperm tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs as a diagnostic biomarker and its role in early embryo development remains unclear. In this study, we found that human sperm tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs were highly associated with sperm quality. By microinjecting the antisense sequence into human tripronuclear (3PN) zygotes followed by single-cell RNA-sequencing, we found that human sperm tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs participated in the development of a human embryo. Furthermore, Gln-TTGs might influence embryonic genome activation by modulating noncoding RNA processing. These findings demonstrated that human sperm tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs could be potential diagnostic biomarkers and could be used as a clinical target for male infertility.

Free access

Liu Shi-fan, Wang Zhong-xing, Yuan Yao-e, Bing Sheng-min, Zhang Bei-zhu, Wu Jin-zhi, Wu Yi-e, and Peng Xin-ying

Summary. The concentrations of LH, FSH, prolactin, oestradiol and progesterone in serum were measured daily during the menstrual cycle of 100 normal Chinese women. The cyclic changes in LH, FSH, oestradiol and progesterone were typical of ovulatory cycles in women of other ethnic groups as reported in the literature. The geometric mean of the LH midcycle peak value was 51·64 i.u./l, the FSH mid-cycle peak value was 11 ·52 i.u./l, the preovulatory oestradiol peak was 1229·12 pmol/1, and the progesterone luteal maximum was 53·27 nmol/1. The cyclic changes of prolactin concentrations were irregular: the value at mid-cycle was significantly higher than that at the follicular or luteal phases.

A correlation between the length of the cycle and mean concentrations of LH and oestradiol at different stages throughout the cycle was shown.

Open access

Ning-Xin Qin, Yi-Ran Zhao, Wei-Hui Shi, Zhi-Yang Zhou, Ke-Xin Zou, Chuan-Jin Yu, Xia Liu, Ze-Han Dong, Yi-Ting Mao, Cheng-Liang Zhou, Jia-Le Yu, Xin-Mei Liu, Jian-Zhong Sheng, Guo-Lian Ding, Wen-Long Zhao, Yan-Ting Wu, and He-Feng Huang

The number of children born after assisted reproductive technology (ART) is accumulating rapidly, and the health problems of the children are extensively concerned. This study aims to evaluate whether ART procedures alter behaviours in male offspring. Mouse models were utilized to establish three groups of offspring conceived by natural conception (NC), in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET), and frozen-thawed embryo transfer (IVF-FET), respectively. A battery of behaviour experiments for evaluating anxiety and depression levels, including the open field test (OFT), elevated plus maze (EPM) test, light/dark transition test (L/DTT), tail suspension test (TST), forced swimming test (FST), and sucrose preference test (SPT) was carried out. Aged (18 months old), but not young (3 months old), male offspring in the IVF-ET and IVF-FET groups, compared with those in the NC group, exhibited increased anxiety and depression-like behaviours. The protein expression levels of three neurotrophins in PFC or hippocampus in aged male offspring from the IVF-ET and IVF-FET groups reduced at different extent, in comparison to NC group. RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) was performed in the hippocampus of 18 months old offspring to further explore the gene expression profile changes in the three groups. KEGG analyses revealed the coexisted pathways, such as PI3K-Akt signalling pathway, which potentially reflected the similarity and divergence in anxiety and depression between the offspring conceived by IVF-ET and IVF-FET. Our research suggested the adverse effects of advanced age on the psychological health of children born after ART should be highlighted in the future.

Free access

Yan Xu, Miao Liu, Yi-hua Gu, Xiao-feng Jia, Yong-Mei Chen, Michelle Santos, Ai-Zhen Wu, Xiao-dong Zhang, Hui-Juan Shi, and Ching-Ling C Chen

With tetraspanning topology, members of the membrane-spanning four-domain subfamily A (MS4A) may facilitate signaling or ion channel functions in many tissues. In this study, we report the cloning of a full-length cDNA from rat testis, designated Ms4a14 (Sp3111), which encodes the MS4A protein with 1139 amino acid residues. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analyses indicate that Ms4a14 is predominantly expressed from round spermatids to spermatozoa at specific stages in the rat testis at both the mRNA and protein level. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed that MS4A14 (SP3111) is located in the acrosome and the midpiece of the flagellum in mature sperm. Previously, we explored and reported the involvement of MS4A14 in reproductive functions, using antibody blockage during IVF and a transgenic RNA interference method in a mouse model. Our results suggested that MS4A14 is involved in fertilization and zygote division. As MS4A14 protein exists in mammals, such as humans, cows, dogs, and rodents, MS4A14 may play a ubiquitous role in mammalian reproduction.

Free access

Qiao-Song Zheng, Xiao-Na Wang, Qing Wen, Yan Zhang, Su-Ren Chen, Jun Zhang, Xi-Xia Li, Ri-Na Sha, Zhao-Yuan Hu, Fei Gao, and Yi-Xun Liu

Spermatogenesis is a complex process involving the regulation of multiple cell types. As the only somatic cell type in the seminiferous tubules, Sertoli cells are essential for spermatogenesis throughout the spermatogenic cycle. The Wilms tumor gene, Wt1, is specifically expressed in the Sertoli cells of the mouse testes. In this study, we demonstrated that Wt1 is required for germ cell differentiation in the developing mouse testes. At 10 days post partum, Wt1-deficient testes exhibited clear meiotic arrest and undifferentiated spermatogonia accumulation in the seminiferous tubules. In addition, the expression of claudin11, a marker and indispensable component of Sertoli cell integrity, was impaired in Wt1−/flox; Cre-ERTM testes. This observation was confirmed in in vitro testis cultures. However, the basal membrane of the seminiferous tubules in Wt1-deficient testes was not affected. Based on these findings, we propose that Sertoli cells' status is affected in Wt1-deficient mice, resulting in spermatogenesis failure.

Free access

Xiao-Wei Wei, Xue-Qing Liu, Yu-Chen Zhang, Chuan-Mei Qin, Yi Lin, and Fu-Ju Tian

Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is a multifactorial condition with no explanation of miscarriage in approximately half of the RPL patients, consequently leaving deep physical and emotional sequels. Transcription factor 3 (TCF3 or E2A), is a unique member of the LEF/TCF family and plays an important role in embryogenesis. However, its function in RPL is poorly understood. Using real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), western blotting, and immunohistochemistry, we demonstrated that TCF3 was downregulated in decidual tissues from RPL patients compared with healthy control (HC). Further, TCF3 knockdown inhibited proliferation, induced G0/G1 phase arrest, and promoted migration in human endometrial stromal cells (HESCs), while overexpression of TCF3 exhibited the opposite effects. RNA-sequencing analysis combined with gene-set enrichment analysis results showed that the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway is potentially downstream of TCF3. Knockdown of TCF3 confirmed increased p38 phosphorylation, while overexpression of TCF3 inhibited p38 phosphorylation. Furthermore, we found that TCF3 protein level was decreased in HESCs under hypoxic incubation, while hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1A) knockdown increased the expression of TCF3. TCF3 overexpression recovered the proliferation ability of HESCs inhibited by hypoxia and reversed hypoxia-induced migration. Consistently, we found that RPL patients had a significantly higher level of HIF1A in the decidual tissue than HC. Overall, this study clarifies that increased HIF1A in the decidua contributes to the occurrence of RPL through the TCF3/p38 signaling pathway.

Free access

Shiyang Zhang, Yunhao Liu, Qian Huang, Shuo Yuan, Hong Liu, Lin Shi, Yi Tian Yap, Wei Li, Jingkai Zhen, Ling Zhang, Rex A Hess, and Zhibing Zhang

Intraflagellar transport (IFT) is a conserved mechanism essential for the assembly and maintenance of most eukaryotic cilia and flagella. IFT172 is a component of the IFT complex. Global disruption of mouse Ift172 gene caused typical phenotypes of ciliopathy. Mouse Ift172 gene appears to translate two major proteins; the full-length protein is highly expressed in the tissues enriched in cilia and the smaller 130 kDa one is only abundant in the testis. In male germ cells, IFT172 is highly expressed in the manchette of elongating spermatids. A germ cell-specific Ift172 mutant mice were generated, and the mutant mice did not show gross abnormalities. There was no difference in testis/body weight between the control and mutant mice, but more than half of the adult homozygous mutant males were infertile and associated with abnormally developed germ cells in the spermiogenesis phase. The cauda epididymides in mutant mice contained less developed sperm that showed significantly reduced motility, and these sperm had multiple defects in ultrastructure and bent tails. In the mutant mice, testicular expression levels of some IFT components, including IFT20, IFT27, IFT74, IFT81 and IFT140, and a central apparatus protein SPAG16L were not changed. However, expression levels of ODF2, a component of the outer dense fiber, and AKAP4, a component of fibrous sheath, and two IFT components IFT25 and IFT57 were dramatically reduced. Our findings demonstrate that IFT172 is essential for normal male fertility and spermiogenesis in mice, probably by modulating specific IFT proteins and transporting/assembling unique accessory structural proteins into spermatozoa.