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Lin Chen, Weijie Zhao, Mengxiong Li, Yazhu Yang, Chengzi Tian, Dengyang Zhang, Zhiguang Chang, Yunzhe Zhang, Zhizhuang Joe Zhao, Yun Chen, and Lin Ma

Decidualization is the process of conversion of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) into decidual stromal cells (DSCs), which is caused by progesterone production that begins during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and then increases throughout pregnancy dedicated to support embryonic development. Decidualization deficiency is closely associated with various pregnancy complications, such as recurrent miscarriage (RM). Here, we reported that Src-homology-2-containing phospho-tyrosine phosphatase (SHP2), a key regulator in the signal transduction process downstream of various receptors, plays an indispensable role in decidualization. SHP2 expression was upregulated during decidualization. SHP2 inhibitor RMC-4550 and shRNA mediated SHP2 reduction resulted in a decreased level of phosphorylation of ERK and aberrant cytoplasmic localization of progesterone receptor (PR), coinciding with reduced expression of IGFBP1 and various other target genes of decidualization. Solely inhibiting ERK activity recapitulated these observations. Administration of RMC-4550 led to decidualization deficiency and embryo absorption in mouse. Moreover, reduced expression of SHP2 was detected in decidua of RM patients. Our results revealed that SHP2 is key to PR's nuclear localization, thereby indispensable for decidualization and that reduced expression of SHP2 might be engaged in the pathogenesis of RM.

Free access

Chunfang Xu, Weijie Zhao, Xixi Huang, Zhuxuan Jiang, Lu Liu, Liyuan Cui, Xinyi Li, Dajin Li, and Meirong Du

Decidualization is the functional transformation process of endometrium in response to ovarian steroids dedicated to support embryo development. Defective decidualization is closely associated with various pregnancy complications such as recurrent miscarriage (RM). Dual specificity MAPK phosphatases (MKPs) are a family of phosphatases specifically regulating mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling with dual specificity for threonine and tyrosine. Here, using RNA-seq,we found that dual specificity phosphatase 1 (DUSP1) expression was prominently elevated among the MKP family members in db-cAMP treated primary human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs). We verified that its induction by db-cAMP in ESCs was in a dose- and time-dependent manner and that primary human decidual stromal cells (DSCs) present higher expression of DUSP1 than ESCs. A protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor H-89 abolished its induction in ESCs, but not ESI-09, an EPAC1/2 inhibitor. Knock-down of TORC2/3 but not CREB by siRNA in ESCs diminished its induction by db-cAMP. Furthermore, knock-down of DUSP1, as well as TORC2/3 by siRNA caused abnormal activation of JNK during db-cAMP induction in ESCs, accompanied by decreased IGFBP1 expression, an ESC decidualization indicator, which could be fully rescued by a JNK inhibitor SP600125. In addition, Western blot showed that DUSP1 expression was reduced in the DSCs of patients with RM, along with JNK overactivation and decreased IGFBP1 expression. In conclusion, our results demonstrated that TORC2/3-mediated DUSP1 upregulation in response to the cAMP/PKA signaling safeguards IGFBP1 expression via restraining JNK activity, indicating its involvement in ESC decidualization, and that aberrant expression of DUSP1 in DSCs might engage in the pathogenesis of RM.

Free access

Xinyi Li, Jiaxin Shi, Weijie Zhao, Xixi Huang, Liyuan Cui, Lu Liu, Xueling Jin, Djin Li, Xuan Zhang, and Meirong Du

Decidual stromal cells (DSCs) modulate the function of trophoblasts through various factors. Wnt signaling pathway is active at the maternal–fetal interface. Here, we isolated endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) from women of reproductive ages and DSCs from normal pregnancy during the first trimester (6–10 weeks). Real-time quantitative PCR and western blotting were used to screen out the most variable WNT ligands between ESCs and DSCs, which turned out to be WNT16. Both culture mediums from DSCs and recombinant protein of human WNT16 enhanced the survival and invasion of HTR8/SVneo trophoblastic cells. Furthermore, the regulation of DSCs on trophoblast was partly blockaded after we knocked down WNT16 in DSCs. Treating HTR8/SVneo trophoblastic cells with small molecular inhibitors and small interfering RNA (siRNA), we found that the activity of AKT/beta-catenin (CTNNB1) correlated with the effect of WNT16. The crosstalk of WNT16/AKT/beta-catenin between DSCs and trophoblasts was determined to be downregulated in unexplained recurrent spontaneous abortion. This study suggests that WNT16 from DSCs promotes HTR8/SVneo trophoblastic cells invasion and survival via AKT/beta-catenin pathway at the maternal–fetal interface in human early pregnancy. The disturbance of this crosstalk between DSCs and trophoblasts might cause pregnancy failure.