During early pregnancy in ruminants, progesterone (P4) from the corpus luteum and interferon tau (IFNT) from the conceptus act on the endometrium to regulate genes important for uterine receptivity and conceptus growth. The use of the uterine gland knockout (UGKO) ewe has demonstrated the critical role of epithelial secretions in regulation of conceptus survival and growth. A custom ovine cDNA array was used to identify alterations in gene expression of endometria from Day 14 cyclic, pregnant, and UGKO ewes (study 1) and from cyclic ewes treated with P4 or P4 with ZK 136,317 antiprogestin and control proteins or IFNT (study 2). In study 1, expression of 47 genes was more than 2-fold different between Day 14 pregnant and cyclic endometria, whereas 23 genes was different between Day 14 cyclic and UGKO endometria. In study 2, 70 genes were different due to P4 alone, 74 genes were affected by IFNT in a P4-dependent manner, and 180 genes were regulated by IFNT in a P4-independent manner. In each study, an approximately equal number of genes were found to be activated or repressed in each group. Endometrial genes increased by pregnancy and P4 and/or IFNT include B2M, CTSL, CXCL10, G1P3, GRP, IFI27, IFIT1, IFITM3, LGALS15, MX1, POSTN, RSAD2, and STAT5A. Transcripts decreased by pregnancy and P4 and/or IFNT include COL3A1, LUM, PTMA, PUM1, RPL9, SPARC, and VIM. Identification and analysis of these hormonally responsive genes will help define endometrial pathways critical for uterine support of peri-implantation conceptus survival, growth, and implantation.
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