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Embryo implantation is closely associated with dynamic expression of proprotein convertase 5/6 in the rabbit uterus

BioMed Central
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1186/1477-7827-9-43
  • Research
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Background Proprotein convertase 5/6 (PC5/6) is critical for embryo implantation in women, regulating both uterine epithelial receptivity and stromal cell decidualization. PC5/6 is likewise essential for implantation in mice, but involved only in decidualization. An alternative animal model is required to address the function of PC5/6 in the uterine epithelium. This study aimed to establish whether PC5/6 is associated with embryo implantation in rabbits. Methods Virgin New-Zealand white rabbits aged 3-4 moths were mated with males of the same strain, or pseudo-pregnancy induced. After mating, uterine tissues were collected over a 10 day (d) period (n = 3 per time point) for RNA, protein and histological analyses to determine the temporal and spatial uterine expression pattern of PC5/6 during the initial stages of pregnancy or induced pseudo-pregnancy. Results PC5/6 mRNA was up-regulated just prior to embryo attachment on d6, and the elevated expression was maintained throughout implantation on d6.5-10. Western analysis revealed a preferential up-regulation of PC5/6 in the implantation sites. Immunohistochemical analysis identified that both the amount and cellular localization of PC5/6 changed with increasing pregnancy stages. Before embryo attachment, PC5/6 was low and localised in the luminal and glandular epithelium. It increased on d6.5 in the basal glands and mucosal folds, and then strongly intensified on d7-10 in the multinucleated luminal symplasma and decidual cells at the site of embryo implantation. In contrast, the pseudo-pregnant uterus displayed relatively low and static PC6 mRNA expression throughout the 10 days, with no obvious changes in either PC5/6 level or cellular localization. Conclusions These findings demonstrate that embryo implantation in the rabbit is closely associated with dynamic expression of uterine PC5/6, and that the rabbit may be an appropriate model to investigate the function of PC5/6 in the uterine epithelium during embryo attachment.

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