Expression and hormonal regulation of Muc-1 at the apical surface of mouse uterine epithelial cells and its role in modulating embryo implantation

Gulnar Aspi Surveyor, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Previous studies from our lab have established that large molecular weight mucin glycoproteins are major apically-disposed components of mouse uterine epithelial cells in vitro (Valdizan et al., (1992) J. Cell. Physiol. 151:451-465). The present studies demonstrate that Muc-1 represents one of the apically-disposed mucin glycoproteins of mouse uterine epithelia, and that Muc-1 protein and mRNA expression are regulated in the peri-implantation stage mouse uterus by ovarian steroids. Muc-1 expression is high in the proestrous and estrous stages, and decreases during diestrous. Both Muc-1 protein and mRNA levels decline to barely detectable levels by day 4 of pregnancy, i.e., prior to the time of blastocyst attachment. In contrast, Muc-1 expression in the cervix and vagina is maintained during this same period. Delayed implantation was established in pregnant mice by ovariectomy and maintained by administration of exogenous progesterone. Initiation of implantation was triggered by coinjection of progesterone maintained mice with a nidatory dose of 17$\beta$-estradiol. Muc-1 levels in the uterine epithelia of progesterone maintained mice declined to similar low levels as observed on day 4 of normal pregnancy. Coinjection of estradiol did not alter Muc-1 expression suggesting that down-regulation of Muc-1 is a progesterone dominated event. This was confirmed in ovariectomized, non-pregnant mice which displayed stimulation of Muc-1 expression following 6 hr of estradiol injection. Estradiol stimulated Muc-1 expression was inhibited by the pure antiestrogen, ICI 164,384. While progesterone alone had no effect on Muc-1 expression, it antagonized estradiol action in this regard. Injection of pregnant mice with the antiprogestin, RU 486, a known implantation inhibitor, on day 3 of pregnancy restored high level expression of Muc-1 mRNA on day 4, indicating that down-regulation of Muc-1 is progesterone receptor-mediated. Muc-1 appears to function as an anti-adhesive molecule at the apical cell surface of mouse uterine epithelial cells. Treatment of polarized cultures of mouse uterine epithelial cells with O-sialoglycoprotein endopeptidase reduced mucin expression in vitro, by about 50%, and converted polarized uterine epithelia to a functionally receptive state. Similarly, ablation of Muc-1 in Muc-1 null mice resulted in polarized uterine epithelia that were functionally receptive as compared to their wild-type counterparts in vitro. Collectively, these data indicate that Muc-1 and other mucins function as anti-adhesive molecules and that reduction or removal of these molecules is a prerequisite for the generation of a receptive uterine state.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Anatomy & physiology|Animals

Recommended Citation

Surveyor, Gulnar Aspi, "Expression and hormonal regulation of Muc-1 at the apical surface of mouse uterine epithelial cells and its role in modulating embryo implantation" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9700320.