Navigation Links
Gap junction protein vital to successful pregnancy, researchers find

Researchers studying a critical stage of pregnancy implantation of the embryo in the uterus have found a protein that is vital to the growth of new blood vessels that sustain the embryo. Without this protein, which is produced in higher quantities in the presence of estrogen, the embryo is unlikely to survive.

This is the first study to detail the mechanism by which the steroid hormone estrogen spurs cell differentiation and blood-vessel growth in the uterus during pregnancy, the researchers report.

The findings, from researchers at the University of Illinois, Emory University, Baylor College of Medicine and New York University, appear in the journal Development.

Connexin 43 (Cx43) belongs to a family of proteins that form junctions between cells that regulate the flow of ions and small signaling molecules from cell to cell. At the time of embryo implantation, this gap junction protein is essential to the rapid growth of new blood vessels needed to support the development of the embryo and allow it to implant in the uterine wall, the researchers discovered.

The researchers chose to study Cx43 after analyzing genes that are activated in the presence of estrogen in uterine cells. They found that Cx43 was prominent among the genes whose expression was increased in cells after exposure to estrogen.

University of Illinois veterinary biosciences doctoral student Mary Laws studied the role of Cx43 in pregnant mice and in human endometrial cells. By deleting the Cx43 gene in the uterus immediately after pregnancy in mice, a technique developed by researchers at Baylor, Laws was able to reliably prevent implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

In human endometrial cells (provided by co-author Robert Taylor of Emory University), Cx43 enhanced the differentiation of cells that make up the stromal tissue of the uterus. These cells produce factors that promote the growth of new blood vessels.

One of the factors secreted by the endometrial cells, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is essential to angiogenesis. In the absence of Cx43, Laws found, the cells failed to differentiate or to produce enough VEGF to spur blood vessel growth.

"The formation of these new blood vessels is extremely critical for embryonic growth at this stage of pregnancy, when the embryo has begun to invade into the uterine tissue, but has yet to make a connection to the placenta where it ultimately gets its nutrients," said Illinois veterinary biosciences professor Indrani Bagchi, corresponding author on the study. "I think this is the first animal model that shows that disruption of one particular molecule or gene leads to a defect in uterine angiogenesis."

The findings have important implications for early pregnancy loss and female infertility, she said.

"A fundamental aspect of female reproductive biology is how these hormones signal in uterine tissue in order to support the pregnancy," said molecular and integrative physiology professor Milan Bagchi, an author on the study. "One of our major goals is to identify the genes that are regulated by estrogen and progesterone precisely at the time when the embryo implants in the uterine wall."

"Connexin 43 has been shown to be in the uterus in many animal systems cows and pigs and rodents and humans," Laws said. "But this is the first time that it's been shown to be critical for pregnancy."


Contact: Diana Yates
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related biology news :

1. NIH awards Argonne $800,000 to develop tool to measure distances within proteins
2. Iowa State University researcher shows proteins have controlled motions
3. Chips are down as Manchester makes protein scanning breakthrough
4. Candy-coating keeps proteins sweet
5. NYU scientists identify critical protein complex in formation of cell cilia
6. Improved technique determines structure in membrane proteins
7. MSUs discovery of plant protein holds promise for biofuel production
8. Study reveals surprising details of the evolution of protein translation
9. Water is designer fluid that helps proteins change shape, scientists say
10. Immune system protein accurate predictor of survival in pediatric septic shock
11. Various species genes evolve to minimize protein production errors
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Gap junction protein vital to successful pregnancy, researchers find
(Date:11/11/2015)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical technology ... pleased to announce that it will be a Sponsor of ... to be held November 17-19 in Hamburg ... of iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, proven and ... has been able to deliver time and cost savings of ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... ALBANY, New York , November 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... According to a new market report published by Transparency ... Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", ... value of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market ... during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today announced an ... its DNA library preparation products, including the ThruPLEX ... Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been optimized for ... libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of cell-free circulating ... in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins Scientific is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... , Nov. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/--  Mallinckrodt plc ... announced today that it has closed the sale of ... to Guerbet (GBT- NYSE Euronext) in a transaction valued ... four manufacturing facilities and a total of approximately 1,000 ... the St. Louis area. This ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ... Accutest Research Laboratories, a leading independent ... (CRO), has formed a strategic partnership ... Temple Health for joint work on ... ) , --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE MKT: PIP) announced ... stockholder rights plan (Rights Plan) in an effort to ... (NOLs) under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code ... PharmAthene,s use of its NOLs could be substantially limited ... in Section 382 of the Code. In general, an ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... ), a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants for ... will present at the LD Micro "Main Event" ... p.m. PT. The presentation will be webcast live and ... will also be available at the conference for one-on-one ...
Breaking Biology Technology: