Contents To stably maintain pregnancy, several genes are expressed in the uterus. In particular, the endometrial expression of genes encoding growth factors appears to play a key role in maternal-foetal communication. The previous studies characterized the endometrial expression kinetics of the genes encoding epidermal growth factor (EGF), its receptor (EGFR), transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-α), amphiregulin (Areg), heparin-binding (Hb) EGF and calbindin-D9k (CaBP-9k) in pigs during implantation. Here, we further characterized the expression patterns of these molecules during the entire porcine pregnancy. Porcine uteri were collected at pregnancy days (PD) 12, 15, 30, 60, 90 and 110 and subjected to RT-PCR. EGF and EGFR showed similar expression patterns, being highly expressed around implantation and then disappearing. TGF-α and Areg expression levels rose steadily until they peaked at PD30, after which they gradually decreased to PD12 levels. This Areg mRNA expression pattern was confirmed by real-time PCR and similar Areg protein expression patterns were observed. Immunohistochemical analysis of PD60 uteri revealed Areg in the glandular and luminal epithelial cells. Hb EGF was steadily expressed throughout the entire pregnancy, while CaBP-9k was expressed strongly on PD12, and then declined sharply on PD15 before recovering slightly for the remainder of the pregnancy. Thus, the EGF family may play a key role during implantation in pigs. In addition, CaBP-9k may help to maintain uterine quiescence during pregnancy by sequestering cytoplasmic Ca2+.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology