Establishment of a successful pregnancy requires not only implantation of a healthy embryo into a receptive uterus but also progesterone receptor (PGR)-dependent transformation of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) into specialized decidual cells. Decidual cells support the developing embryo and are critical for placentation. We have previously shown that a known transcriptional coregulator of the PGR, steroid receptor coactivator-2 (SRC-2), is a critical driver of endometrial decidualization in both human and mouse endometrium. However, the full spectrum of genes transcriptionally controlled by SRC-2 in decidualizing ESCs has not been identified. Therefore, using an RNA- and chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing approach, we have identified the transcriptome of decidualizing human ESCs (hESCs) that requires SRC-2. We revealed that the majority of hESC genes regulated by SRC-2 are associated with decidualization. Over 50% of SRC-2-regulated genes are also controlled by the PGR. While ontology analysis showed that SRC-2-dependent genes are functionally linked to signaling processes known to underpin hESC decidualization, cell membrane processes were significantly enriched in this analysis. Follow-up studies showed that retinoid signaling is dependent on SRC-2 during hESC decidualization. Specifically, SRC-2 is required for full induction of the retinol transporter, stimulated by retinoic acid 6 (STRA6), which is essential for hESC decidualization. Together our findings show that a critical subset of genes transcriptionally reprogramed by PGR during hESC decidualization requires SRC-2. Among the multiple genes, pathways and networks that are dependent on SRC-2 during hESC decidualization, first-line analysis supports a critical role for this coregulator in maintaining retinoid signaling during progesterone-driven decidualization.
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