Abstract: The stage-specific expression of functional proteins within the endometrium, and their regulation by conceptus-derived signals, are crucial for conceptus development and successful establishment of pregnancy. Accurate knowledge of endometrium-conceptus interactions is key for the development of effective strategies to improve conceptus implantation rates both following natural conception and/or assisted reproductive technologies. The unilateral pregnant ewe provides a powerful experimental model for the study of endometrial function in the presence or absence of conceptuses during the peri-implantation period. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry-based proteomics were used to compare and identify differentially expressed proteins in caruncular endometrium collected from the gravid uterine horns and the non-gravid uterine horns at the time of conceptus attachment (day 16 of pregnancy) and early post-implantation period (day 20 of pregnancy). Fifty seven protein spots were up-regulated in the gravid horn at day 16 of pregnancy and twenty seven protein spots were up-regulated in the gravid horn at day 20 of pregnancy. Sixteen proteins with different functions such as protein metabolism, cholesterol and ion transport and cell adhesion were identified. In conclusion, the use of the unilaterally pregnant ewe model provides evidence that the early implantation and post-implanting conceptus-derived signals up-regulate caruncle endometrial proteins, including carbonic anhydrase 2 (CA-II) and apolipoprotein A-1 (APOA1) and down-regulate caruncle endometrial proteins, including adenosylhomocysteinase (AHCY) and heat shock 60kDa protein 1 (HSP60). These regulated proteins are likely involved in providing a suitable intra-uterine environment required for conceptus attachment, implantation, early post-implantation development and the successful establishment of pregnancy in sheep.
Bibliographical noteThis project was funded by NHS Grampian R&D project number RG05/019
- gravid and non-gravid uterine horns
- early pregnancy