The goal of the present study was to investigate proteinase activity in uterine flushates collected during the zona loss time window (68–80 h post-egg activation) in both pregnant and pseudopregnant hamsters and in culture medium conditioned by hatching blastocysts. Several prominent enzyme activities appeared in all pregnant and pseudopregnant uterine flushates. However, only a 45, 43 × 10−3 Mr doublet coincided with the zona loss time window; these bands were absent outside of this time window and were not found in conditioned medium. In medium conditioned by hatching blastocysts, enzyme activity was represented by a 70, 65 × 10−3 Mr doublet identical to a doublet seen in all uterine flushates collected and in serum. There were 12 pregnant and 8 pseudopregnant uterine flushates that were capable of zona lytic activity in vitro (positive bioassays). Of these positive bioassays, five pregnant and four pseudopregnant uterine flushates exhibited the 45, 43 × 10−3 Mr doublet (correlative positive bioassays). These data suggest that there is an important uterine contribution to blastocyst escape from the zona pellucida, consisting of proteinases secreted during a finite time window prior to blastocyst attachment that are different from the proteinases responsible for the zona lytic activity in vitro.
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