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Balancing the womb
Date:12/21/2011

phosphatase that are phosphorylated during cycles of contraction and relaxation of uterine smooth muscle.

Dr Claire Hudson said: "This study has increased our understanding of the biochemical changes underlying uterine activity and may help in the design of better drugs to prevent preterm labour or to induce labour successfully at term, benefiting many thousands of women and their babies."

Andrs Lpez Bernal, Professor of Human Reproductive Biology, added: "Our research will lead to better control of labour, whether stopping or starting it and it could be extended to the study of the non-pregnant uterus to improve our understanding of menstruation and to identify alterations responsible for painful periods or excessive menstrual blood loss."

A key aspect of smooth muscle contractions is the phosphorylation (addition of phosphate) to certain muscle proteins called myosins, and is usually stimulated by increasing the level of calcium inside the cells. The balance of myosin phosphorylation and de-phosphorylation (removal of phosphate) is finely regulated by myosin kinases and myosin phosphatases, respectively, and in pregnancy this equilibrium determines whether the uterus is relaxed or contracting.

Alterations in the kinase/phosphatase equilibrium and its regulation by calcium can make the uterus more sensitive to oxytocin and other hormones that trigger labour and provoke preterm birth. On the other hand, alterations that favour relaxation may make the uterus contract poorly and result in failed induction of labour.


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Contact: Joanne Fryer
joanne.fryer@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-331-7276
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

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