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Jing Cong, Hong-Lu Diao, Yue-Chao Zhao, Hua Ni, Yun-Qin Yan and Zeng-Ming Yang

It has been shown that both prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) and PGE2 are essential for mouse implantation, whereas only PGE2 is required for hamster implantation. To date, the expression and regulation of cyclooxygenase (COX) and prostaglandin E synthase (PGES), which are responsible for PGE2 production, have not been reported in the rat. The aim of this study was to examine the expression pattern and regulation of COX-1, COX-2, membrane-associated PGES-1 (mPGES-1), mPGES-2 and cytosolic PGES (cPGES) in rat uterus during early pregnancy and pseudopregnancy, and under delayed implantation. At implantation site on day 6 of pregnancy, COX-1 immunostaining was highly visible in the luminal epithelium, and COX-2 immunostaining was clearly observed in the subluminal stroma. Both mPGES-1 mRNA and protein were only observed in the subluminal stroma surrounding the implanting blastocyst at the implantation site on day 6 of pregancy , but were not seen in the inter-implantation site on day 6 of pregnancy and on day 6 of pseudopregnancy. Our data suggest that the presence of an active blastocyst is required for mPGES-1 expression at the implantation site. When pregnant rats on day 5 were treated with nimesulide for 24 h, mPGES-1 protein expression was completely inhibited. cPGES immunostaining was clearly observed in the luminal epithelium and subluminal stromal cells immediately surrounding the implanting blastocyst on day 6 of pregnancy. mPGES-2 immunostaining was clearly seen in the luminal epithelium at the implantation site. Additionally, immunostaining for prostaglandin I synthase (PGIS) was also strongly detected at the implantation site. In conclusion, our results indicate that PGE2 and PGI2 should have a very important role in rat implantation.

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Shuai Lin, Yu-Yuan Zhu, Wei Hu, Yan Yang, Jia-Mei Luo, Shijun Hu and Zeng-Ming Yang

Decidualization is required for the successful establishment of pregnancy in rodents and primates. Fatty acid desaturase 3 (Fads3) belongs to the fatty acid desaturase family, which is a crucial enzymes for highly unsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis. However, the expression, regulation and function of Fads3 during early pregnancy in mice are still unknown. In this study, we examined Fads3 expression, regulation and function during mouse decidualization. The expression of Fads3 is detected in the subluminal stromal cells at implantation site on day 5 of pregnancy, but not at inter-implantation site and in day 5 pseudopregnant uteri. Compared to delayed implantation, Fads3 is strongly expressed after delayed implantation is activated by estrogen treatment. From days 6 to 8, Fads3 mRNA signals are significantly detected in the decidua. In ovariectomized mice, estrogen significantly stimulates Fads3 expression. However, estrogen has no effect on Fads3 expression in ovariectomized ERα deficient mice, suggesting that estrogen regulation on Fads3 expression is ERα-dependent. When ovariectomized mice were treated with progesterone, Fads3 expression is significantly increased by progesterone. Progesterone stimulation on Fads3 expression is also detected in cultured stromal cells, which is abrogated by RU486 treatment. These data indicate that progesterone upregulation on Fads3 expression is progesterone receptor-dependent. Fads3 knockdown by siRNA reduces in vitro decidualization of mouse stromal cells. Taken together, Fads3 may play an important role during mouse decidualization.

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Tong Sun, Shi-Jie Li, Hong-Lu Diao, Chun-Bo Teng, Hong-Bin Wang and Zeng-Ming Yang

Cyclooxygenase (COX), a rate-limiting enzyme that produces prostaglandins (PGs) from arachidonic acid, exists in two isoforms, COX-1 and COX-2. PGE2 synthase (PGES) is a terminal prostanoid synthase and can enzymatically convert the cyclooxygenase product PGH2 to PGE2, including two isoforms: microsomal PGES (mPGES) and cytosolic PGES (cPGES). cPGES is predominantly linked with COX-1 to promote the immediate response. mPGES is preferentially coupled with the inducible COX-2 to promote delayed PGE2 generation. COX-2-deficient female mice are infertile with abnormalities in ovulation, fertilization, implantation and decidualization. The aim of this study was to examine immunohistochemically the expression pattern of COX-1, COX-2, mPGES and cPGES proteins in the endometrium of the rhesus monkey during the menstrual cycle. COX-1 immunostaining was mainly localized in the luminal epithelium and glandular epithelium near the lumen, and detected in all the stages during the menstrual cycle. COX-2 immunostaining was mainly localized in the luminal and glandular epithelium, and strongly shown during the mid-luteal phase (days 16 and 20) of the menstrual cycle. There was a strong cPGES immunostaining in the luminal and glandular epithelium on days 12, 16, 20 and 25 of the menstrual cycle. mPGES immunostaining was strongly detected in the glandular epithelium on days 20 and 25 of the menstrual cycle. These data suggest that the coupling of cPGES and COX-1 in the luminal epithelium may be responsible for the synthesis of PGE2 in monkey endometrium, and the coupling of mPGES and COX-2 in the glandular epithelium may be of importance for preparing the receptive endometrium.

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Chun-Bo Teng, Hong-Lu Diao, Hong Ma, Jing Cong, Hao Yu, Xing-Hong Ma, Li-Bin Xu and Zeng-Ming Yang

Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3), a member of the Stat family, is specifically activated during mouse embryo implantation. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression, activation and regulation of Stat3 in rat uterus during early pregnancy, pseudopregnancy, delayed implantation and artificial decidualization. Stat3 mRNA was highly expressed in the luminal epithelium on day 5 and in the luminal epithelium and underlying stromal cells at implantation sites on day 6 of pregnancy. There was a strong level of Stat3 protein expression and phosphorylation in the stromal cells near the lumen and in the luminal epithelium on day 5 of pregnancy, which was similar to day 5 of pseudopregnancy. In the afternoon of day 6, the strong level of Stat3 phosphorylation was detected only in the luminal epithelium. Stat3 was highly expressed and activated in the decidual cells from days 7 to 9 of pregnancy and under artificial decidualization in the present study. Our results suggest that the strong level of Stat3 activation in the luminal epithelium and underlying stromal cells during the pre-implantation period may be important for establishing uterine receptivity as in mice, and the high level of Stat3 expression and activation in decidual cells may play a role during decidualization.

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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.