Arginine is an essential amino acid for conceptus (embryo/fetus and trophoblast/placenta) growth and development; however, the mechanisms for arginine transport into the uterine lumen and uptake by conceptuses are largely unknown. In this study, expression of System y (SLC7A1, SLC7A2, and SLC7A3) cationic amino acid transporters in uteri of cyclic and pregnant ewes and conceptuses was studied, and effects of pregnancy, progesterone (P4), and interferon tau (IFNT) on their expression were investigated. SLC7A1 mRNA was most abundant in endometrial luminal (LE) and superficial glandular (sGE) epithelia on Day 16 of the estrous cycle and on Days 16–20 of pregnancy, whereas SLC7A2 mRNA was most abundant in LE and mid to deep glandular (GE) epithelia on Days 14–20 of gestation. Expression of SLC7A1 and SLC7A2 was enhanced in pregnant ewes in a cell-specific manner, but abundance of SLC7A3 was not affected by day of the estrous cycle or by pregnancy status. SLC7A1, SLC7A2, and SLC7A3 mRNAs were expressed in trophectoderm and endoderm of conceptuses. In ovariectomized ewes, short-term treatment of ewes with P4 and IFNT did not affect endometrial SLC7A1 mRNA, while long-term treatment with P4 stimulated SLC7A1 in LE and GE, and IFNT tended to increase SLC7A1 abundance in LE. SLC7A2 mRNA abundance increased 4.1-fold in response to short-term P4 treatment and an additional 1.7-fold by IFNT primarily in endometrial LE/sGE, and these effects were ablated by a P4 receptor antagonist. These results indicate that coordinate changes in SLC7A1, SLC7A2, and SLC7A3 expression in uterine endometria and conceptuses are likely important in transport of arginine that is critical to conceptus growth, development, and survival.
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Vol. 80 • No. 3