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Jing Cong, Hong-Lu Diao, Yue-Chao Zhao, Hua Ni, Yun-Qin Yan, and Zeng-Ming Yang

It has been shown that both prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) and PGE2 are essential for mouse implantation, whereas only PGE2 is required for hamster implantation. To date, the expression and regulation of cyclooxygenase (COX) and prostaglandin E synthase (PGES), which are responsible for PGE2 production, have not been reported in the rat. The aim of this study was to examine the expression pattern and regulation of COX-1, COX-2, membrane-associated PGES-1 (mPGES-1), mPGES-2 and cytosolic PGES (cPGES) in rat uterus during early pregnancy and pseudopregnancy, and under delayed implantation. At implantation site on day 6 of pregnancy, COX-1 immunostaining was highly visible in the luminal epithelium, and COX-2 immunostaining was clearly observed in the subluminal stroma. Both mPGES-1 mRNA and protein were only observed in the subluminal stroma surrounding the implanting blastocyst at the implantation site on day 6 of pregancy , but were not seen in the inter-implantation site on day 6 of pregnancy and on day 6 of pseudopregnancy. Our data suggest that the presence of an active blastocyst is required for mPGES-1 expression at the implantation site. When pregnant rats on day 5 were treated with nimesulide for 24 h, mPGES-1 protein expression was completely inhibited. cPGES immunostaining was clearly observed in the luminal epithelium and subluminal stromal cells immediately surrounding the implanting blastocyst on day 6 of pregnancy. mPGES-2 immunostaining was clearly seen in the luminal epithelium at the implantation site. Additionally, immunostaining for prostaglandin I synthase (PGIS) was also strongly detected at the implantation site. In conclusion, our results indicate that PGE2 and PGI2 should have a very important role in rat implantation.

Free access

Yongmei Chen, Huizhen Wang, Nan Qi, Hui Wu, Weipeng Xiong, Jing Ma, Qingxian Lu, and Daishu Han

Mice lacking TYRO3, AXL and MER (TAM) receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are male sterile. The mechanism of TAM RTKs in regulating male fertility remains unknown. In this study, we analyzed in more detail the testicular phenotype of TAM triple mutant (TAM−/−) mice with an effort to understand the mechanism. We demonstrate that the three TAM RTKs cooperatively regulate male fertility, and MER appears to be more important than AXL and TYRO3. TAM−/− testes showed a progressive loss of germ cells from elongated spermatids to spermatogonia. Young adult TAM−/− mice exhibited oligo-astheno-teratozoospermia and various morphological malformations of sperm cells. As the mice aged, the germ cells were eventually depleted from the seminiferous tubules. Furthermore, we found that TAM−/− Sertoli cells have an impaired phagocytic activity and a large number of differentially expressed genes compared to wild-type controls. By contrast, the function of Leydig cells was not apparently affected by the mutation of TAM RTKs. Therefore, we conclude that the suboptimal function of Sertoli cells leads to the impaired spermatogenesis in TAM−/− mice. The results provide novel insight into the mechanism of TAM RTKs in regulating male fertility.

Free access

Muyun Wei, Ying Gao, Bingru Lu, Yulian Jiao, Xiaowen Liu, Bin Cui, Shengnan Hu, Linying Sun, Shaowei Mao, Jing Dong, Lei Yan, Zijiang Chen, and Yueran Zhao

Defective decidualization of human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) has recently been highlighted as an underlying cause of implantation failure. FK-506-binding protein 51 (FKBP51) has been shown to participate in the steroid hormone response and the protein kinase B (AKT) regulation process, both of which are important pathways involved in decidualization. The objective of the present study was to investigate the potential effects and mechanisms of FKBP51 in the regulation of ESC decidualization. By performing immunohistochemical staining on an endometrial tissue microarray (TMA) derived from normal females, we found that FKBP51 expression was much higher in the luteal phase than in the follicular phase in ESCs. Primary ESCs were isolated from patients to build an in vitro decidualization model through co-culture with medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) and 8-bromoadenosine (cAMP). SC79, a specific AKT activator in various physiological and pathological conditions, and shRNA-FKBP51 were used to examine the roles of AKT and FKBP51 in decidualization. The Western blot and RT-PCR results showed that FKBP51, insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 1 (IGFBP1) and prolactin (PRL) expression increased in ESCs treated with MPA + cAMP; meanwhile, the level of p-Ser473 AKT (p-S473 AKT) decreased and forkhead box protein O1 (FOXO1A) expression increased. Decidualization was inhibited by the AKT activator SC79 and the transfection of FKBP51-shRNA by affecting protein synthesis, cell morphology, cell growth and cell cycle. Furthermore, this inhibition was rescued by FKBP51-cDNA transfection. The results supported that FKBP51 promotes decidualization by reducing the Ser473 phosphorylation levels in AKT.

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Ling Jin, Liang Ren, Jing Lu, Xue Wen, Siying Zhuang, Ting Geng, and Yuanzhen Zhang

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder accompanied by chronic low-grade inflammation; its etiology is still undefined. This study investigated the expression of CXCL12, CXCR4, and CXCR7 in PCOS rats and their role in regulation of apoptosis. To accomplish this, we established an in vivo PCOS rat model and studied KGN cells (human ovarian granulosa cell line) in vitro. In PCOS rats, the ovarian expression of CXCL12, CXCR4, and CXCR7 was reduced, and the apoptosis rate of granulosa cells was increased, accompanied by decreased expression of BCL2 and increased expression of BAX and cleaved CASPASE3 (CASP3). We further showed that recombinant human CXCL12 treatment upregulated BCL2, downregulated BAX, and cleaved CASP3 in KGN cells to inhibit their apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner; moreover, the effect of CXCL12 was weakened by CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100 and anti-CXCR7 neutralizing antibody. In conclusion, PCOS rats showed decreased CXCL12, CXCR4, and CXCR7 expression and increased apoptosis rate of ovarian granulosa cells. Further, in human KGN cells, CXCL12 regulated the expression of BAX, BCL2, and cleaved CASP3 to inhibit apoptosis through CXCR4- and CXCR7-mediated signal transmission. These findings may provide a theoretical and practical basis for illuminating the role of proinflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of PCOS.

Free access

Chun-Bo Teng, Hong-Lu Diao, Hong Ma, Jing Cong, Hao Yu, Xing-Hong Ma, Li-Bin Xu, and Zeng-Ming Yang

Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3), a member of the Stat family, is specifically activated during mouse embryo implantation. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression, activation and regulation of Stat3 in rat uterus during early pregnancy, pseudopregnancy, delayed implantation and artificial decidualization. Stat3 mRNA was highly expressed in the luminal epithelium on day 5 and in the luminal epithelium and underlying stromal cells at implantation sites on day 6 of pregnancy. There was a strong level of Stat3 protein expression and phosphorylation in the stromal cells near the lumen and in the luminal epithelium on day 5 of pregnancy, which was similar to day 5 of pseudopregnancy. In the afternoon of day 6, the strong level of Stat3 phosphorylation was detected only in the luminal epithelium. Stat3 was highly expressed and activated in the decidual cells from days 7 to 9 of pregnancy and under artificial decidualization in the present study. Our results suggest that the strong level of Stat3 activation in the luminal epithelium and underlying stromal cells during the pre-implantation period may be important for establishing uterine receptivity as in mice, and the high level of Stat3 expression and activation in decidual cells may play a role during decidualization.

Free access

Zhenzhen Zhang, Changjiu He, Lu Zhang, Tianqi Zhu, Dongying Lv, Guangdong Li, Yukun Song, Jing Wang, Hao Wu, Pengyun Ji, and Guoshi Liu

α-Ketoglutarate (α-KG) is an intermediary metabolite in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and functions to inhibit ATPase and maintain the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells (ESCs); however, little is known regarding the effects of α-KG on the development of preimplantation embryos. Herein, we report that α-KG (150 μM) treatment significantly promoted the blastocyst rate, the number of inner cell mass (ICM) cells and foetal growth after embryo transfer. Mechanistic studies revealed two important pathways involved in the α-KG effects on embryo development. First, α-KG modulates mitochondria function by inducing relatively low ATP production without modification of mitochondrial copy number. The relatively low energy metabolism preserves the pluripotency and competence of the ICM. Second, α-KG modifies epigenetics in embryos cultured in vitro by affecting the activity of the DNA demethylation enzyme TET and the DNA methylation gene Dnmt3a to increase the ratio of 5hmC/5mC ratio. Elevation of the 5hmC/5mC ratio not only promotes the pluripotency of the ICM but also leads to a methylation level in an in vitro embryo close to that in an in vivo embryo. All these functions of α-KG collectively contribute to an increase in the number of ICM cells, leading to greater adaptation of cultured embryos to in vitro conditions and promoting foetal growth after embryo transfer. Our findings provide basic knowledge regarding the mechanisms by which α-KG affects embryo development and cell differentiation.

Open access

Guangdong Li, Xiuzhi Tian, Dongying Lv, Lu Zhang, Zhenzhen Zhang, Jing Wang, Minghui Yang, Jingli Tao, Teng Ma, Hao Wu, Pengyun Ji, Yingjie Wu, Zhengxing Lian, Wei Cui, and Guoshi Liu

NLRP (NACHT, LRR and PYD domain-containing proteins) family plays pivotal roles in mammalian reproduction. Mutation of NLRP7 is often associated with human recurrent hydatidiform moles. Few studies regarding the functions of NLRP7 have been performed in other mammalian species rather than humans. In the current study, for the first time, the function of NLRP7 has been explored in ovine ovary. NLRP7 protein was mainly located in ovarian follicles and in in vitro pre-implantation embryos. To identify its origin, 763 bp partial CDS of NLRP7 deriving from sheep cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) was cloned, it showed a great homology with Homo sapiens. The high levels of mRNA and protein of NLRP7 were steadily expressed in oocytes, parthenogenetic embryos or IVF embryos. NLRP7 knockdown by the combination of siRNA and shRNA jeopardized both the parthenogenetic and IVF embryo development. These results strongly suggest that NLRP7 plays an important role in ovine reproduction. The potential mechanisms of NLRP7 will be fully investigated in the future.