Kruppel-like factor 9 (KLF9) is a zinc finger transcription factor that regulates estrogen and progesterone action by modulating the activity of progesterone receptor (PGR). The transition from proliferative to secretory endometrial epithelium involves loss of estrogen receptor/PGR expression and loss of direct response to sex steroids. HOXA10 partially mediates progesterone responsiveness in the endometrium. Here, we demonstrate that HOXA10 directly regulates KLF9 in endometrial epithelial cells and not in stromal cells. Immunohistochemistry performed on endometrial tissue obtained from normal, reproductive-age women revealed that KLF9 expression was decreased in the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle compared to the proliferative phase. In vitro, HOXA10 transfection of human endometrial epithelial cells (Ishikawa), but not stromal cells (HESC), resulted in a greater than 50% decrease in KLF9 mRNA and protein expression. Reporter constructs driven by the KLF9 promoter were repressed by cotransfection with HOXA10. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay was used to demonstrate direct binding of HOXA10 to the KLF9 promoter. Targeted mutation of the HOXA10-binding site in the KLF9 promoter resulted in loss of HOXA10 binding and loss of repression by HOXA10 in reporter assays. HOXA10 directly and selectively repressed KLF9 expression in endometrial epithelial cells. HOXA10 repression of KLF9 likely contributes to the loss of sex steroid responsiveness in secretory-phase endometrial epithelium.
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Vol. 83 • No. 2