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Tengteng Li, Jiajia Fei, Huihui Yu, Xingxing Wang, Dan Li, and Zongzhi Yin

The mechanisms underlying pre-labor uterine quiescence and uterine atony during overdistention are unclear. TREK1 (a two-pore domain potassium channel) and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) are activated by mechanical stretch, and their expression is upregulated by decreased uterine contractility. HIF-1α is a nuclear factor which regulates numerous target proteins, but whether it regulates TREK1 during uterine stretch to cause uterine quiescence and/or atony is unclear. We investigated uterine contractility at different gestational stages in rats, as well as in non-pregnant uteri, which were induced by prolonged stretching and hypoxia. We also assessed the effects of incubating the uteri with or without echinomycin or L-methionine. Moreover, we analyzed HIF-1α and TREK1 expression levels in each group, as well as at various gestational stages of pregnant human uteri. We found that contractility was significantly decreased in pregnant uteri when compared with non-pregnant uteri, and this decrease was associated with increases in HIF-1α and TREK1 expression levels. HIF-1α and TREK1 expression levels in human uteri increased with the gestational length. Decreased uterine contractility and increased HIF-1α and TREK1 expression levels were also observed in non-pregnant rat uteri under 8 g of stretching tension or hypoxia. Inhibition of hypoxia with echinomycin restored normal uterine contractility, while HIF-1α and TREK1 protein expression remained reduced. TREK1 inhibition with L-methionine also restored uterine contractility under tension or hypoxia. In conclusion, we demonstrated that prolonged stretching induces myometrial hypoxia, increases TREK1 expression, and relaxes the myometrium, which may contribute to uterine quiescence and atony.

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Wen-Wen Gu, Long Yang, Xing-Xing Zhen, Yan Gu, Hua Xu, Miao Liu, Qian Yang, Xuan Zhang, and Jian Wang

The invasion of maternal decidua by extravillous trophoblast (EVT) is essential for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy, and abnormal trophoblast invasion could lead to placenta-associated pathologies including early pregnancy loss and preeclampsia. SEC5, a component of the exocyst complex, plays important roles in cell survival and migration, but its role in early pregnancy has not been reported. Thus, the present study was performed to explore the functions of SEC5 in trophoblast cells. The results showed that SEC5 expression in human placental villi at first trimester was significantly higher than it was at the third trimester, and it was abundantly localized in the cytotrophoblast (CTB) and the trophoblastic column. SEC5 knockdown was accompanied by reduced migration and invasion in HTR-8/SVneo cells. In addition, the expression and plasma membrane distribution of integrin β1 was also decreased. Furthermore, shRNA-mediated knockdown of SEC5 inhibited the outgrowth of first trimester placental explants. SEC5 and InsP3R were colocalized in the cytoplasm of HTR-8/SVneo cells, and the cell-permeant calcium chelator BAPTA-AM could significantly inhibit HTR-8/SVneo cell invasion. The Ca2+ imaging results showed that the 10% fetal bovine serum-stimulated cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca2+]c) was not only reduced by downregulated SEC5 but also was blocked by the InsP3R inhibitor. Furthermore, either the [Ca2+]c was buffered by BAPTA-AM or the knockdown of SEC5 disrupted HTR-8/SVneo cell F-actin stress fibers and caused cytoskeleton derangement. Taken together, our results suggest that SEC5 might be involved in regulating trophoblast cell migration and invasion through the integrin/Ca2+ signal pathway to induce cytoskeletal rearrangement.