FOXL2, a winged-helix/forkhead domain transcription factor, is a key gene involved in the differentiation and biological functions of the ovary. In a recent transcriptomic analysis, we found that FOXL2 expression in bovine caruncular endometrium was different from that in intercaruncular endometrium. In order to gain new insights into FOXL2 in this tissue, we determined the expression of this transcription factor during the estrous cycle and the establishment of pregnancy in cattle. The endometrial expression of FOXL2 did not vary during maternal recognition of pregnancy (Days 16–20). Using an in vivo bovine model and primary cell cultures, we showed that FOXL2 was not an interferon-tau target gene. Both FOXL2 transcript and protein were expressed from Day 5 to Day 20 of the estrous cycle, and their levels showed a significant increase during the luteolytic phase. A 2-day progesterone supplementation in heifers led to a clear down-regulation of FOXL2 protein levels, suggesting the negative impact of progesterone on FOXL2 expression. Immunohistochemistry data revealed the localization of FOXL2 in endometrial stromal and glandular cells. FOXL2 subcellular distribution was shown to be nuclear in endometrial samples collected during the luteolytic period, while it was not detected in nuclei during the luteal phase and at implantation. Collectively, our findings provide the first evidence that FOXL2 is involved in the regulation of endometrial tissue physiology.
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Vol. 87 • No. 2