During embryonic development, Foxa2 is required for the formation of the node and notochord, and ablation of this gene results in defects in gastrulation, neural tube patterning, and gut morphogenesis. Foxa2 has been shown to be expressed specifically in the glandular epithelium of the murine uterus. To study the uterine function of Foxa2, this gene was conditionally ablated in the mouse uterus by crossing mice with floxed Foxa2 alleles, Foxa2loxP/loxP, with the Pgrcre mouse model. Pgrcre/ Foxa2loxP/loxP mice showed significantly reduced fertility. Analysis of the uterus on Day 5.5 of pregnancy showed disrupted blastocyst implantation. Pgrcre/ Foxa2loxP/loxP mice also showed a severe impairment of the uterus to respond to the artificial induction of the decidual response. Morphological examination of the uteri of these mice showed a severe reduction in the number of endometrial glands. The loss of endometrial glands resulted in the reduction of leukemia inhibitory factor (Lif) expression. The lack of a decidual response could be partially rescued by an intrauterine injection of LIF before the initiation of the decidual response. This analysis demonstrates that Foxa2 regulates endometrial gland development and that mice with a loss of endometrial glands cannot support implantation in part due to the loss of LIF, which is a requisite for fertility in the mouse.
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Vol. 83 • No. 3