During pregnancy, the mouse pubic symphysis undergoes expansion and remodeling resulting in formation of a flexible and elastic interpubic ligament allowing passage of a term fetus. In the current study, we sought to identify and characterize components of the extracellular matrix that likely play an important role in elongation and flexibility of the interpubic ligament during parturition. Mouse pubic symphyses and interpubic ligaments collected at time points during pregnancy and postpartum were utilized to evaluate collagen type, collagen content, processing and solubility, matricellular protein, and proteoglycan expression and quantitative assessment of all glycosaminoglycans. These studies revealed increased gene expression for hyaluronan synthase 1, hyaluronan synthase 2, and versican on Gestation Day 18 as well as a decline in protein expression for the versican-degrading protease a disintegrin-like and metalloprotease with thrombospondin type 1 (ADAMTS1) motif. These findings suggest that the primary mediators of increased elongation and flexibility of the interpubic ligament at term result from increased synthesis and reduced metabolism of viscoelasticity-promoting molecules such as high molecular weight hyaluronan and versican.
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Vol. 86 • No. 2