Episialin, which is found on the apical membrane of human endometrial epithelium, has been postulated to act as an antiadhesive factor through the steric hindrance generated by its extensively glycosylated structure. The present studies were designed to test this hypothesis in an in vitro model of endometrial-blastocyst attachment. Episialin was expressed in human endometrial carcinoma cells (HEC-1A > RL95-2), and attachment of JAr choriocarcinoma cells to the endometrial cell monolayers was inversely related to episialin expression. Treatment of endometrial monolayers with type III sialidase increased JAr binding, and this increase was suppressed by HMFG1, a monoclonal antibody specific for episialin. The effects of sialidase appear to have resulted from a contaminant protease rather than from a loss of sialic acid residues, because sialidase preparations other than type III were ineffective. After sialidase treatment, conditioned medium from cells treated with type III sialidase contained more episialin than medium from cells treated with other sialidase preparations. Similar attachment-assay results were obtained using O-sialoglycoprotein endopeptidase; after treatment, the increase in JAr binding (>50%) was suppressed by the antiepisialin antibody. These results demonstrate for the first time that episialin acts as an antiadhesive agent in a model of human endometrial-blastocyst attachment.
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