Transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) is known to bind to a variety of transcription factors to control cell differentiation and organ development. However, its role in uterine physiology has not yet been described. To study its regulation during the unique process of differentiation of fibroblasts into decidual cells (decidualization), we utilized the human uterine fibroblast (HuF) in vitro cell model. Immunocytochemistry data demonstrated that the majority of the TAZ protein is localized in the nucleus. Treatment of HuF cells with the embryonic stimulus cytokine interleukin 1 beta in the presence of steroid hormones (estradiol-17 beta and medroxyprogesterone acetate) for 13 days did not cause any apparent TAZ mRNA changes but resulted in a significant TAZ protein decline (approximately 62%) in total cell lysates. Analysis of cytosolic and nuclear extracts revealed that the decline of total TAZ was caused primarily by a drop of TAZ protein levels in the nucleus. TAZ was localized on the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor response element site (located at position −1200 bp relative to the transcription start site) of the genomic region of decidualization marker insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 1 (IGFBP1) in HuF cells as detected by chromatin immunoprecipitation. TAZ is also present in human endometrium tissue as confirmed by immunohistochemistry. During the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle, specific TAZ staining particularly diminishes in the stroma, suggesting its participation during the decidualization process, as well as implantation. During early baboon pregnancy, TAZ protein expression remains minimal in the endometrium close to the implantation site. In summary, the presented evidence shows for the first time to date TAZ protein in the human uterine tract, its downregulation during in vitro decidualization, and its localization on the IGFBP1 promoter region, all of which indicate its presence in the uterine differentiation program during pregnancy.
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Vol. 82 • No. 6