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Jennifer L Herington and Brent M Bany

Within the mouse endometrium, secreted phosphoprotein 1 (SPP1) gene expression is mainly expressed in the luminal epithelium and some macrophages around the onset of implantation. However, during the progression of decidualization, it is expressed mainly in the mesometrial decidua. To date, the precise cell types responsible for the expression in the mesometrial decidua has not been absolutely identified. The goal of the present study was to assess the expression of SPP1 in uteri of pregnant mice (decidua) during the progression of decidualization and compared it with those undergoing artificially induced decidualization (deciduoma). Significantly (P<0.05) greater steady-state levels of SPP1 mRNA were seen in the decidua when compared with deciduoma. Further, in the decidua, the majority of the SPP1 protein was localized within a subpopulation of granulated uterine natural killer (uNK) cells but not co-localized to their granules. However, in addition to being localized to uNK cells, SPP1 protein was also detected in another cell type(s) that were not epidermal growth factor-like containing mucin-like hormone receptor-like sequence 1 protein-positive immune cells that are known to be present in the uterus at this time. Finally, decidual SPP1 expression dramatically decreased in uteri of interleukin-15-deficient mice that lack uNK cells. In conclusion, SPP1 expression is greater in the mouse decidua when compared with the deciduoma after the onset of implantation during the progression of decidualization. Finally, uNK cells were found to be the major source of SPP1 in the pregnant uterus during decidualization. SPP1 might play a key role in uNK killer cell functions in the uterus during decidualization.

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Wei Lei, Jennifer Herington, Cristi L Galindo, Tianbing Ding, Naoko Brown, Jeff Reese, and Bibhash C Paria

The mouse model has greatly contributed to understanding molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of progesterone (P4) plus estrogen (E)-dependent blastocyst implantation process. However, little is known about contributory molecular mechanisms of the P4-only-dependent blastocyst implantation process that occurs in species such as hamsters, guineapigs, rabbits, pigs, rhesus monkeys, and perhaps humans. We used the hamster as a model of P4-only-dependent blastocyst implantation and carried out cross-species microarray (CSM) analyses to reveal differentially expressed genes at the blastocyst implantation site (BIS), in order to advance the understanding of molecular mechanisms of implantation. Upregulation of 112 genes and downregulation of 77 genes at the BIS were identified using a mouse microarray platform, while use of the human microarray revealed 62 up- and 38 down-regulated genes at the BIS. Excitingly, a sizable number of genes (30 up- and 11 down-regulated genes) were identified as a shared pool by both CSMs. Real-time RT-PCR and in situ hybridization validated the expression patterns of several up- and down-regulated genes identified by both CSMs at the hamster and mouse BIS to demonstrate the merit of CSM findings across species, in addition to revealing genes specific to hamsters. Functional annotation analysis found that genes involved in the spliceosome, proteasome, and ubiquination pathways are enriched at the hamster BIS, while genes associated with tight junction, SAPK/JNK signaling, and PPARα/RXRα signalings are repressed at the BIS. Overall, this study provides a pool of genes and evidence of their participation in up- and down-regulated cellular functions/pathways at the hamster BIS.

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Michael F Robuck, Christine M O’Brien, Kelsi M Knapp, Sheila D Shay, James D West, J M Newton, James C Slaughter, Bibhash C Paria, Jeff Reese, and Jennifer L Herington

In mouse models used to study parturition or pre-clinical therapeutic testing, measurement of uterine contractions is limited to either ex vivo isometric tension or operative intrauterine pressure (IUP). The goal of this study was to: (1) develop a method for transcervical insertion of a pressure catheter to measure in vivo intrauterine contractile pressure during mouse pregnancy, (2) determine whether this method can be utilized numerous times in a single mouse pregnancy without affecting the timing of delivery or fetal outcome and (3) compare the in vivo contractile activity between mouse models of term and preterm labor (PTL). Visualization of the cervix allowed intrauterine pressure catheter (IUPC) placement into anesthetized pregnant mice (plug = day 1, delivery = day 19.5). The amplitude, frequency, duration and area under the curve (AUC) of IUP was lowest on days 16–18, increased significantly (P < 0.05) on the morning of day 19 and reached maximal levels during by the afternoon of day 19 and into the intrapartum period. An AUC threshold of 2.77 mmHg discriminated between inactive labor (day 19 am) and active labor (day 19 pm and intrapartum period). Mice examined on a single vs every experimental timepoint did not have significantly different IUP, timing of delivery, offspring number or fetal/neonatal weight. The IUP was significantly greater in LPS-treated and RU486-treated mouse models of PTL compared to time-matched vehicle control mice. Intrapartum IUP was not significantly different between term and preterm mice. We conclude that utilization of a transcervical IUPC allows sensitive assessment of in vivo uterine contractile activity and labor progression in mouse models without the need for operative approaches.