A polyclonal antibody was raised against amino acids 7–18 in the first extracellular loop of rat prostaglandin F (FP) receptor to monitor expression and localization in pregnant rat myometrium at Gestational Days 16, 18, 20, 21, 21.5, 22 (delivery), and 23 (1-day postpartum; n = 5 per group). The antibody recognized a protein of approximately 43 kDa on Western blot analysis in both membrane (soluble and nonsoluble) and cytosolic fractions of myometrium on each day of gestation. Expression of FP protein increased significantly (P < 0.05) during late gestation in both soluble membrane and cytosolic fractions, being significantly greater at Day 21.5 than at Day 20 of gestation in the soluble membrane fraction and in the cytosolic fraction of tissues collected during labor compared with those obtained before labor. The total concentration of FP receptor in the membrane (soluble plus nonsoluble) remained high throughout late gestation and fell significantly (P < 0.05) in the postpartum period. The FP receptor in the soluble membrane fraction (compared to the total membrane FP receptor) was significantly (P < 0.05) higher in late gestation than earlier, whereas the ratio of FP protein in cytosolic to that in the total membrane was significantly (P < 0.05) higher on Day 23 than earlier in gestation, suggesting a dynamic movement of FP with advancing gestational age. Immunoreactive FP receptor localized to circular and longitudinal smooth muscle at all gestational ages, but changes in intracellular localization were observed in late gestation with a staining pattern similar to α-actin, suggesting an association with myofibrils. Our study suggests an increase in FP-receptor protein in myometrium with advancing gestation and a marked elevation at term. This supports a role for uterine FP receptors in mediation of uterine contractility at term.
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