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Open access

Hang Qi, Guiling Liang, Jin Yu, Xiaofeng Wang, Yan Liang, Xiaoqing He, Tienan Feng, and Jian Zhang

MicroRNA (miRNA) expression profiles in tubal endometriosis (EM) are still poorly understood. In this study, we analyzed the differential expression of miRNAs and the related gene networks and signaling pathways in tubal EM. Four tubal epithelium samples from tubal EM patients and five normal tubal epithelium samples from uterine leiomyoma patients were collected for miRNA microarray. Bioinformatics analyses, including Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA), Gene Ontology (GO) analysis and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis, were performed. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) validation of five miRNAs was performed in six tubal epithelium samples from tubal EM and six from control. A total of 17 significantly differentially expressed miRNAs and 4343 potential miRNA-target genes involved in tubal EM were identified (fold change >1.5 and FDR-adjusted P value <0.05). IPA indicated connections between miRNAs, target genes and other gynecological diseases like endometrial carcinoma. GO and KEGG analysis revealed that most of the identified genes were involved in the mTOR signaling pathway, SNARE interactions in vesicular transport and endocytosis. We constructed an miRNA-gene-disease network using target gene prediction. Functional analysis showed that the mTOR pathway was connected closely to tubal EM. Our results demonstrate for the first time the differentially expressed miRNAs and the related signal pathways involved in the pathogenesis of tubal EM which contribute to elucidating the pathogenic mechanism of tubal EM-related infertility.

Open access

Yan Shi, Bingjie Hu, Zizengchen Wang, Xiaotong Wu, Lei Luo, Shuang Li, Shaohua Wang, Kun Zhang, and Huanan Wang

In brief

The lineage specification during early embryonic development in cattle remains largely elusive. The present study determines the effects of trophectoderm-associated factors GATA3 and CDX2 on lineage specification during bovine early embryonic development.


Current understandings of the initiation of the trophectoderm (TE) program during mammalian embryonic development lack evidence of how TE-associated factors such as GATA3 and CDX2 participate in bovine lineage specification. In this study, we describe the effects of TE-associated factors on the expression of lineage specification marker genes such as SOX2, OCT4, NANOG, GATA6, and SOX17, by using cytosine base editor system. We successfully knockout GATA3 or CDX2 in bovine embryos with a robust efficiency. However, GATA3 or CDX2 deletion does not affect the developmental potential of embryos to reach the blastocyst stage. Interestingly, GATA3 deletion downregulates the NANOG expression in bovine blastocysts. Further analysis of the mosaic embryos shows that GATA3 is required for NANOG in the TE of bovine blastocysts. Single blastocyst RNA-seq analysis reveals that GATA3 deletion disrupts the transcriptome in bovine blastocysts. Altogether, we propose that GATA3 plays an important role in maintaining TE lineage program in bovine embryos and the functional role of GATA3 is species-specific.

Open access

Yu-chen Zhang, Xiao-li Qin, Xiao-ling Ma, Hui-qin Mo, Shi Qin, Cheng-xi Zhang, Xiao-wei Wei, Xue-qing Liu, Yan Zhang, Fu-ju Tian, and Yi Lin

Preeclampsia is a gestational hypertensive disease; however, preeclampsia remains poorly understood. Bioinformatics analysis was applied to find novel genes involved in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia and identified CLDN1 as one of the most differentially expressed genes when comparing patients with preeclampsia and healthy controls. The results of the qRT-PCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry experiments demonstrated that CLDN1 was significantly downregulated in the chorionic villi in samples from patients with preeclampsia. Furthermore, knockdown of CLDN1 in HTR-8/SVneo cells resulted in the inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis, and overexpression of CLDN1 reversed these effects. In addition, RNA-seq assays demonstrated that the gene BIRC3 is potentially downstream of CLDN1 and is involved in the regulation of apoptosis. Knockdown of CLDN1 confirmed that the expression level of BIRC3 was obviously decreased and was associated with a significant increase in cleaved PARP. Interestingly, the apoptotic effect in CLDN1 knockdown cells was rescued after BIRC3 overexpression. Overall, these results indicate that a decrease in CLDN1 inhibits BIRC3 expression and increases cleaved PARP levels thus participating in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia.

Open access

Hai-Yan Hou, Xi Wang, Qi Yu, Hong-Yi Li, Shao-Jie Li, Rui-Yi Tang, Zai-Xin Guo, Ya-Qiong Chen, Chun-Xiu Hu, Zhi-Juan Yang, Wen-ke Zhang, and Yan Qin

Decline in successful conception decreases more rapidly after 38 years of age owing to follicular depletion and decreased oocyte quality. However, limited information is available regarding the underlying mechanism and the useful treatment. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of growth hormone supplementation on oocyte maturation in vivo in aged and young mice and to determine its effect on mitochondrial function. The influence of three different doses of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) (0.4, 0.8 and 1.6 mg/kg/day) for 8 weeks before ovarian stimulation was analyzed. Superovulated oocytes were released from the oviduct of 12-week-old and 40-week-old female C57BL/6J mice 14–16 h after administration of human chorionic gonadotropin. Ovarian follicle and morphological analysis and oocyte maturation parameters were then evaluated. This study is the first, to our knowledge, to report that medium- and high-dose rhGH significantly increases antral follicles in aged mice but anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels. Furthermore, derived oocytes, MII-stage oocyte rate, ATP levels, mitochondrial membrane potential and frequencies of homogeneous mitochondrial distribution increased. In contrast, in both aged and young mice, the mtDNA copy numbers per oocyte were similar before rhGH administration, and upon saline administration, they did not differ significantly. We conclude that medium-dose rhGH supplementation before standard ovarian stimulation regimens improves oocyte quality in aged mice, probably by enhancing mitochondrial functionality.

Open access

Xiao Han, Cong Zhang, Xiangping Ma, Xiaowei Yan, Bohui Xiong, Wei Shen, Shen Yin, Hongfu Zhang, Qingyuan Sun, and Yong Zhao

Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) antagonists have been reported to decrease male fertility; however, the roles of mAChRs in spermatogenesis and the underlying mechanisms are not understood yet. During spermatogenesis, extensive remodeling between Sertoli cells and/or germ cells interfaces takes place to accommodate the transport of developing germ cells across the blood-testis barrier (BTB) and adluminal compartment. The cell–cell junctions play a vital role in the spermatogenesis process. This study used ICR male mice and spermatogonial cells (C18-4) and Sertoli cells (TM-4). shRNA of control or M5 gene was injected into 5-week-old ICR mice testes. Ten days post-viral grafting, mice were deeply anesthetized with pentobarbital and the testes were collected. One testicle was fresh frozen for RNA-seq analysis or Western blotting (WB). The second testicle was fixed for immunofluorescence staining (IHF). C18-4 or TM-4 cells were treated with shRNA of control or M5 gene. Then, the cells were collected for RNA-seq analysis, WB, or IHF. Knockdown of mAChR M5 disrupted mouse spermatogenesis and damaged the actin-based cytoskeleton and many types of junction proteins in both Sertoli cells and germ cells. M5 knockdown decreased Phldb2 expression in both germ cells and Sertoli cells which suggested that Phldb2 may be involved in cytoskeleton and cell–cell junction formation to regulate spermatogenesis. Our investigation has elucidated a novel role for mAChR M5 in the regulation of spermatogenesis through the interactions of Phldb2 and cell–cell junctions. M5 may be an attractive future therapeutic target in the treatment of male reproductive disorders.

Open access

Jie Mei, Yuan Yan, Shi-Yuan Li, Wen-Jie Zhou, Qun Zhang, Ming-Qing Li, and Hai-Xiang Sun

Decidualization renders the endometrium transiently receptive to an implanting blastocyst although the underlying mechanisms remain incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to determine the role of chemokine CXCL16 and its receptor CXCR6 in the decidualization during pregnancy. Here, the expression of CXCL16 was investigated in endometrial tissues, decidua and placenta in this study. Compared with endometrial tissue, protein expression of CXCL16 was significantly higher in tissues from the fertile control samples, especially in villus. Meanwhile, the primary trophoblast cells and decidual stromal cells (DSCs) secreted more CXCL16 and expressed higher CXCR6 compared to endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) in vitro. Stimulation with the inducer of decidualization (8-bromoadenosine 3′,5′-cyclic with medroxyprogesterone acetate, 8-Br-cAMP plus MPA) significantly upregulated the expression of CXCL16 and CXCR6 in ESCs in vitro. After treatment with exogenous recombinant human CXCL16 (rhCXCL16) or trophoblast-secreted CXLC16, decidualised ESCs showed a significant decidual response, mainly characterised by increased prolactin (PRL) secretion. Simultaneously, PI3K/PDK1/AKT/Cyclin D1 pathway in decidualised ESCs were activated by rhCXCL16, and AKT inhibitor GS 690693 abolished the PRL secretion of ESCs that was triggered by rhCXCL16. Finally, the impaired CXCL16/CXCR6 expression could be observed at the maternal–foetal interface from patients who have experienced spontaneous abortion. This study suggests that the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis contributes to the progression of ESC decidualization by activating PI3K/PDK1/AKT/Cyclin D1 pathway. It unveils a new paradigm at the maternal–foetal interface in which CXCL16 is an initiator for the molecular crosstalk that enhances decidualization of ESCs.

Open access

Huijuan Liao, Yan Chen, Yulong Li, Shaolong Xue, Mingfeng Liu, Ziyuan Lin, Yanyan Liu, Hsiao Chang Chan, Xiaohu Zhang, and Huaqin Sun

Mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene affect fertility in both sexes. However, the involvement of CFTR in regulating germ cell development remains largely unknown. Here, we used zebrafish model to investigate the role of CFTR in primordial germ cells (PGCs) development. We generated a cftr frameshift mutant zebrafish line using CRISPR/Cas9 technique and investigated the migration of PGCs during early embryo development. Our results showed that loss of Cftr impairs the migration of PGCs from dome stages onward. The migration of PGCs was also perturbed by treatment of CFTRinh-172, a gating-specific CFTR channel inhibitor. Moreover, defected PGCs migration in cftr mutant embryos can be partially rescued by injection of WT but not other channel-defective mutant cftr mRNAs. Finally, we observed the elevation of cxcr4b, cxcl12a, rgs14a and ca15b, key factors involved in zebrafish PGCs migration, in cftr-mutant zebrafish embryos. Taken together, the present study revealed an important role of CFTR acting as an ion channel in regulating PGCs migration during early embryogenesis. Defect of which may impair germ cell development through elevation of key factors involved in cell motility and response to chemotactic gradient in PGCs.