Nodal expression in the uterus of the mouse is regulated by the embryo and correlates with implantation
Park, C.B.; Dufort, D.
Biology of Reproduction 84(6): 1103-1110
Nodal, a transforming growth factor beta (TGFB) superfamily member, plays a critical role during early embryonic development. Recently, components of the Nodal signaling pathway were characterized in the human uterus and implicated in the tissue remodeling events during menstruation. Furthermore, the Nodal inhibitor, Lefty, was identified in the mouse endometrium during pregnancy, and its overexpression led to implantation failure. Nonetheless, the precise function and mechanism of Nodal signaling during pregnancy remains unclear. In order to elucidate the potential roles Nodal plays in these processes, we have generated a detailed profile of maternal Nodal expression in the mouse uterus throughout pregnancy. NODAL, although undetectable during the nonpregnant estrus cycle, was localized throughout the glandular epithelium of the endometrium during the peri-implantation period. Interestingly, Nodal expression generated a banding pattern along the proximal-distal axis of the uterine horn on Day 4.5 that directly correlated with blastocyst implantation. Embryo transfer experiments indicate the embryo regulates Nodal expression in the uterus and directs its expression at the time of implantation, restricting NODAL to the sites between implantation crypts. During the later stages of pregnancy, Nodal exhibits a dynamic expression profile that suggests a role in regulating the endometrial response to decidualization and associated trophoblast invasion.