For successful implantation, the embryo must develop to the blastocyst stage and the endometrium must attain a state that is receptive to the implanting blastocyst. In rodents, the timing, duration, and hormonal regulation of this receptive state has been well defined. However, the molecular cascade of events involved in the onset of the receptive phase remains unclear. In the present study, we sought to identify genes involved in the onset of the receptivity using the technique of suppressive subtraction hybridization. Herein we report the isolation, cloning, and characterization of a novel gene, uterine sensitization-associated gene-1 (UASG-1), that is preferentially expressed within the maximally sensitized/receptive rat endometrium. USAG-1 mRNA encodes a putative protein of 206 amino acids that contains a possible N-terminal secretion signal and a C-terminal cystine knotlike motif. Northern blot analysis revealed that induction of USAG-1 mRNA was restricted to the Day 5 pregnant or pseudopregnant uterus. In situ hybridization experiments demonstrated that this induction was restricted to the uterine glandular epithelial cells. Given the remarkably tight restriction of its expression, USAG-1 may be involved in the onset of endometrial receptivity for implantation/sensitization for the decidual cell reaction.
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