FRAP1 (FK506-binding protein 12-rapamycin complex-associated protein 1), a component of the nutrient-sensing cell signaling pathway, is critical for cell growth and metabolism. The present study determined expression of FRAP1 and associated members of the mTORC1 and mTORC2 cell signaling pathways in uteri of cyclic and pregnant ewes and conceptuses, as well as effects of pregnancy, progesterone (P4), and interferon tau (IFNT) on their expression. The mRNAs for FRAP1, LST8, MAPKAP1, RAPTOR, RICTOR, TSC1, TSC2, RHEB, and EIF4EBP1 were localized to luminal, superficial glandular, and glandular epithelia and stromal cells of uteri from cyclic and pregnant ewes, as well as trophectoderm and endoderm of conceptuses between Days 13 and 18 of pregnancy. The abundance of FRAP1, RAPTOR, RICTOR, TSC1, and TSC2 mRNAs in endometria was unaffected by pregnancy status or by day of the estrous cycle or pregnancy; however, levels of LST8, MAPKAP1, RHEB, and EIF4EBP1 mRNA increased in endometria during early pregnancy. In ovariectomized ewes, P4 and IFNT stimulated expression of RHEB and EIF4EBP1 in uterine endometria. Total endometrial FRAP1 protein and phosphorylated FRAP1 protein levels were affected by pregnancy status and by day after onset of estrus, and phosphorylated FRAP1 protein was detected in nuclei of uterine epithelia and conceptuses. In endometria of pregnant ewes, increases in abundance of mRNAs for RICTOR, RHEB, and EIF4EBP1, as well as RHEB protein, correlated with rapid conceptus growth and development during the peri-implantation period. These results suggest that the FRAP1 cell signaling pathway mediates interactions between the maternal uterus and peri-implantation conceptuses and that P4 and IFNT affect this pathway by regulating expression of RHEB and EIF4EBP1.
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Vol. 81 • No. 1