This process is directed by progesterone (P4) and estrogen.
The mechanism by which P4 differentiates the uterus, enabling estrogen to initiate implantation, is unknown but likely to involve localized induction of growth and differentiation factors.
We have cloned the murine amphiregulin (AR) gene, a newly discovered member of the epidermal growth factor family, and demonstrate that its expression is implantation-specific and P4-regulated in the mouse uterus. A transient surge in AR mRNA levels occurred throughout the uterine epithelium on day 4 of pregnancy.
With the onset of blastocyst attachment late on day 4, AR mRNA accumulated in the luminal epithelium exclusively at the sites of blastocysts. Thus, AR expression correlated first with rising P4 levels and then with the attachment reaction.
The rapid induction of AR mRNA in the ovariectomized uterus only by P4 and abrogation of this induction by RU-486 (a P4 receptor antagonist) suggest that this uterine gene is regulated by P4. AR appeared to exhibit preferential phosphorylation of epidermal growth factor receptor in the uterus over that in the blastocyst.
This is a first report of a P4-regulated uterine epithelial cell growth factor that is associated with epithelial cell differentiation during implantation.
The association of AR in implantation is further documented by its down-regulation in the day 4 pregnant uterus in which uterine receptivity and implantation were disrupted by estrogen or RU-486 treatment on day 3. These results further indicate that the expression of the AR gene could serve as a molecular marker for the receptive state of the uterus for implantation.
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Mol Endocrinol (0888-8809)
Molecular endocrinology (Baltimore, Md.)
Department of Physiology, Ralph L. Smith Research Center, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City 66160-7338, USA.
Mol Endocrinol. 1995 Jun;9(6):691-705
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