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Xuemei Chen, Junlin He, Yubin Ding, Lan Zeng, Rufei Gao, Shuqun Cheng, Xueqing Liu, and Yingxiong Wang

Mammalian target of rapamycin (MTOR) is a protein kinase that plays a central role in cell growth and proliferation. It is a part of the signaling network transmitting growth factor signaling to translational control. Previous studies have shown that MTOR is involved in embryo implantation, but its expression in the uterus and its role in implantation are unclear. Here, we have investigated the expression and role of MTOR in mouse uterus during early pregnancy. RT-FQ PCR showed that the mRNA levels of Mtor in endometria of pregnant mice were higher than those of nonpregnant mice. The mRNA levels in the pregnant mice gradually increased from D3 of pregnancy, reached maximum on D5, and then declined afterward. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis showed that the mRNA and protein of MTOR were mainly located in stromal cells. The levels of the expressed MTOR protein correlate with those of mRNA. The number of implantation sites was greatly decreased by the intrauterine injection with rapamycin in the early morning of D4 of the pregnancy. These findings suggest that MTOR may play an important role in embryo implantation in mice.

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Jing Xiong, Pan Zeng, Xue Cheng, Sen Miao, Le Wu, Sheng Zhou, Ping Wu, and Duyun Ye

Embryo implantation involves a complex regulatory network of steroid hormones, inflammatory cytokines, and immune cells. Lipoxin A4 (LXA4), a biologically active eicosanoid with specific anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving properties, was recently found to be a novel modulator of estrogen receptor α (ERα). In this study, we investigated the potential role of LXA4 in implantation. We found that LXA4 blocked embryo implantation in mice and significantly reduced the expression of inflammatory mediators associated with uterine receptivity and embryo implantation, including corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), cyclooxygenase 2-derived prostaglandin I2 and prostaglandin E2, leukemia inhibitory factor, and interleukin 6, but this effect was independent of LXA4 receptor. Subsequent investigation revealed enhanced ERα activity in the uteri of LXA4-treated mice during the peri-implantation period. ERα and phosphorylated ERα were significantly increased following LXA4 treatment. Finally, it was demonstrated that the inhibitory effect of LXA4 on embryo implantation was mediated through ERα. In the presence of the ERα antagonist ICI 182 780, LXA4 failed to block embryo implantation. LXA4 also failed to inhibit CRF expression. These results suggested that LXA4 blocks embryo implantation by controlling ERα activity, and this effect appeared to be related to the suppression of the inflammatory microenvironment necessary for implantation.

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Pei-Li Wu, Jing-Wen Zhu, Cheng Zeng, Xin Li, Qing Xue, and Hui-Xia Yang

In brief

Insufficient trophoblast invasion at the maternal–fetal interface contributes to abortion-prone pregnancy. Our study shows that decreased levels of IGFBP7 in unexplained recurrent spontaneous abortion (URSA) trophoblast cells inhibit MMP2 and Slug expression as well as trophoblast invasion, suggesting that IGFBP7 should be considered a potential therapeutic protein target in URSA.


Insufficient trophoblast invasion at the maternal–fetal interface contributes to abortion-prone pregnancy. Cyclosporine A (CsA) can exert therapeutic effects on URSA by promoting trophoblast invasion. A previous study showed decreased expression of insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) in the sera of recurrent spontaneous abortion patients. However, the role of IGFBP7 in URSA remains unknown. The aim of this study was to determine whether IGFBP7 modulates trophoblast invasion in URSA and the underlying molecular mechanisms. We found that IGFBP7 was expressed at lower levels in villous specimens from URSA patients. Manipulating IGFBP7 expression significantly affected the MMP2 and Slug expression in HTR-8/SVneo cells as well as trophoblast invasion in vitro. Inactivation of IGF-1R by IGFBP7 was observed, and IGF-1R inhibition increased the IGFBP7-induced MMP2 and Slug expression in HTR-8/SVneo cells. Moreover, the level of c-Jun was significantly upregulated in the URSA group. Silencing IGFBP7 increased the binding of downstream c-Jun to the MMP2 and Slug promoter regions in HTR-8/SVneo cells, thus suppressing transcription. In addition, increased expression of IGFBP7 in HTR-8/SVneo cells was observed upon CsA treatment. Knockdown of IGFBP7 inhibited the CsA-enhanced MMP2 and Slug expression in HTR-8/SVneo cells. Our results suggest that in normal pregnancy, IGFBP7 induces MMP2 and Slug expression via the IGF-1R-mediated c-Jun signaling pathway, thereby promoting trophoblast invasion. IGFBP7 depletion in URSA inhibits MMP2 and Slug expression as well as trophoblast invasion. Moreover, IGFBP7 participates in CsA-induced trophoblast invasion, suggesting that IGFBP7 is a potential therapeutic target for URSA.

Free access

Cheng Zeng, Pei-Li Wu, Zhao-Tong Dong, Xin Li, Ying-Fang Zhou, and Qing Xue

Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disease, and estrogen receptor 2 (ESR2) plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of ovarian endometriosis by promoting cell invasion. Yes-associated protein 1 (YAP1) plays suppressive roles in several types of tumors. However, the relationship between YAP1 and ESR2 is not fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the regulatory mechanism of YAP1 in terms of ESR2 and YAP1 regulation of endometriotic stromal cell (ECSC) invasion in ovarian endometriosis. Our results demonstrated that YAP1 mRNA and protein levels in eutopic endometrium (EU) tissues were higher than those in paired ectopic endometrium (EC) tissues. ECSCs transfected with siYAP1 exhibited a significant increase in both ESR2 mRNA levels and protein expression. Simultaneously, YAP1 overexpression in ECSCs yielded the opposite results. Co-IP assays demonstrated YAP1-NuRD complex formation by YAP1, CHD4 and MTA1 in ECSCs. YAP1 bound to two sites, (-539, -533) and (-158, -152), upstream of the ESR2 transcription initiation site. YAP1 binding to the two sites of the ESR2 promoter in ECSCs was significantly lower than that in eutopic endometrial stromal cells (EUSCs) from EU tissues. ECSCs transfected with siYAP1 exhibited increased invasion activity, while ECSCs transfected with siESR2 showed inhibition of invasion. However, transfection with siYAP1 and siESR2 together decreased the number of invading cells compared with transfection with siYAP1 alone. Therefore, we conclude that decreased levels of YAP1 in ovarian endometriomas enhance ESR2 expression via formation of a YAP1-NuRD complex, which further binds to the ESR2 promoters. Furthermore, YAP1 inhibits ECSCs invasion.

Free access

Li-Jun Huo, Cheng-Guang Liang, Ling-Zhu Yu, Zhi-Sheng Zhong, Zeng-Ming Yang, Heng-Yu Fan, Da-Yuan Chen, and Qing-Yuan Sun

The present study investigated the subcellular localization of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) during mouse oocyte meiotic maturation and fertilization using confocal microscopy, and further studied the roles of iNOS-derived NO in oocyte maturation by using an iNOS-specific inhibitor aminoguanidine (AG) and iNOS antibody microinjection. In germinal vesicle-stage oocytes, iNOS immunoreactivity was mainly localized in the germinal vesicle. Shortly after germinal vesicle breakdown, the iNOS immunoreactivity accumulated around the condensed chromosomes. At metaphase I and metaphase II, with the organization of chromosomes to the equatorial plate, iNOS immunoreactivity was concentrated around the aligned chromosomes, putatively the position of the metaphase spindle. The accumulation of iNOS immunoreactivity could not be detected at anaphase I and anaphase II. However, at telophase I and telophase II, the staining of iNOS was concentrated in the region between the separating chromosomes/chromatids. Furthermore, the staining of iNOS also accumulated in the male and female pronuclei in fertilized eggs. Germinal vesicle breakdown and the first polar body emission of the oocytes were significantly blocked by the iNOS-specific inhibitor AG in a dose-dependent manner. The germinal vesicle breakdown in oocytes injected with iNOS antibody was also inhibited. We found that the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase in oocytes after germinal vesicle breakdown was inhibited by AG treatment. The control oocytes extruded a normal first polar body, while the AG-treated oocytes exhibited an elongated protrusion or no elongated protrusion. The results of confocal microscopy showed that the AG-treated oocytes were arrested at anaphase I–telophase I. Our results suggest that the iNOS-derived NO pathway plays important roles in mouse oocyte meiotic maturation, especially in germinal vesicle breakdown and the anaphase–telophase transition.

Free access

Hui-Qin Mo, Fu-Ju Tian, Xiao-Ling Ma, Yu-Chen Zhang, Cheng-Xi Zhang, Wei-Hong Zeng, Yan Zhang, and Yi Lin

Protein disulfide isomerase 3 (PDIA3) is a chaperone protein that modulates the folding of newly synthesized glycoproteins, has isomerase and redox activity, and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases. However, the role of PDIA3 in pregnancy-associated diseases remains largely unknown. Our present study reveals a key role for PDIA3 in the biology of placental trophoblasts from women with preeclampsia (PE). Immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis revealed that PDIA3 expression was decreased in villous trophoblasts from women with PE compared to normotensive pregnancies. Further, using a Cell Counting Kit-8 assay, flow cytometry, and 5-ethynyl-2’-deoxyuridine (EdU) staining, we found that siRNA-mediated PDIA3 knockdown significantly promoted apoptosis and inhibited proliferation in the HTR8/SVneo cell line, while overexpression of PDIA3 reversed these effects. Furthermore, RNA sequencing and Western blot analysis demonstrated that knockdown of PDIA3 inhibited MDM2 protein expression in HTR8 cells, concurrent with marked elevation of p53 and p21 expression. Conversely, overexpression of PDIA3 had the opposite effects. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot further revealed that MDM2 protein expression was downregulated and p21 was increased in trophoblasts of women with PE compared to women with normotensive pregnancies. Our findings indicate that PDIA3 expression is decreased in the trophoblasts of women with PE, and decreased PDIA3 induces trophoblast apoptosis and represses trophoblast proliferation through regulating the MDM2/p53/p21 pathway.