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Open Access Research article

Alterations in expression of endometrial genes coding for proteins secreted into the uterine lumen during conceptus elongation in cattle

Niamh Forde15*, Jai P Mehta2, Paul A McGettigan1, Solomon Mamo1, Fuller W Bazer3, Thomas E Spencer4 and Pat Lonergan1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

2 Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

3 Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, 77843-2471, USA

4 Center for Reproductive Biology, Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, 99164-6353, USA

5 Veterinary Sciences Centre, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:321  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-321

Published: 10 May 2013

Abstract

Background

We hypothesized that genes that are up-regulated in the uterine endometrium at the initiation of conceptus elongation in cattle, and that encode for secreted proteins, contribute to the composition of the uterine luminal fluid (ULF) and ultimately, drive conceptus elongation. The aims of this study were to: 1) screen endometrial transcriptomic data for genes that encode secreted proteins on Day 13; 2) determine temporal changes in the expression of these genes during the estrous cycle/early pregnancy; 3) determine if expression of these genes is affected by altered concentrations of progesterone (P4) in vivo and 4) determine if the protein products of these genes are detectable in ULF.

Results

Of the fourteen candidate genes examined, quantitative real-time PCR analysis revealed the expression of APOA1, ARSA, DCN, LCAT, MUC13, NCDN, NMN, NPNT, NXPH3, PENK, PLIN2 and TINAGL1 was modulated in the endometrium (P<0.05) as the estrous cycle/early pregnancy progressed. APOA1, DCN and NPNT expression was higher in cyclic compared to pregnant heifers, and pregnancy increased (P<0.05) the expression of LCAT, NCDN, NMN, PLIN2 and TINAGL1. The magnitude of the increase in expression of APOA1, PENK and TINAGL1 on Day 13 was reduced (P<0.05) in heifers with low P4. Furthermore, low P4 decreased (P<0.05) the expression of LCAT and NPNT on Day 7, while an early increase (P<0.05) in the expression of NXPH3 and PLIN2 was observed in heifers with high P4. The protein products of 5 of the candidate genes (APOA1, ARSA, LCAT, NCDN and PLIN) were detected in the ULF on either Days 13, 16 or 19 of pregnancy.

Conclusion

Using a candidate gene approach, we determined that both P4 concentration and the presence of the conceptus alter endometrial expression of PLIN2, TINAGL1, NPNT, LCAT, NMN and APOA1. Comparison of the expression profiles of these genes to proteins detected in ULF during conceptus elongation (i.e., Days 13 through 19) revealed the presence of APOA1, ARSA, LCAT, NCDN as well as members of the PLIN family of proteins that may play roles in driving conceptus elongation in cattle.

Keywords:
Uterus; Endometrium; Gene expression; Histotroph; Embryo; Progesterone; Estrous cycle; Pregnancy; Proteomics