Uterine Development and Fertility Are Dependent on Gene Dosage of the Nuclear Receptor Coregulator REA

Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 524 Burrill Hall, 407 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801-3704, USA.
Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.5). 05/2012; 153(8):3982-94. DOI: 10.1210/en.2012-1044
Source: PubMed


Although the effectiveness of nuclear hormone-receptor complexes is known to depend on coregulator partner proteins, relatively little is known about the roles of coregulators in uterine development and early stages of pregnancy and implantation. Because conventional genetic deletion of the coregulator, repressor of estrogen receptor activity (REA), was embryonic lethal, we here study REA conditional knockout mice generated by cre-loxP recombination, in which REA function was abrogated only in progesterone receptor-expressing tissues, to define the roles of REA in postembryonic stages and in a tissue-specific manner. We find that REA has gene dose-dependent activity impacting uterine development and fertility. Conditional homozygous mutant (REA(d/d)) mice developed to adulthood and showed normal ovarian function, but females were infertile with severely compromised uterine development and function characterized by cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and altered adenogenesis (endometrial gland morphogenesis), resulting in failure of implantation and decidualization. By contrast, mice heterozygous for REA (REA(f/d)) had a very different phenotype, with estradiol treatment resulting in hyperstimulated, large uteri showing increased proliferation of luminal epithelial cells, and enhanced fluid imbibition associated with altered regulation of aquaporins. These REA(f/d) female mice showed a subfertility phenotype with reduced numbers and sizes of litters. These findings highlight that uterine development and regulation of estrogen receptor activities show a bimodal dependence on the gene dosage of REA. Optimal uterine development and functional activities require the normal gene dosage of REA, with partial or complete deletion resulting in hyperresponsiveness or underresponsiveness to hormone and subfertility or infertility, respectively.

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    • "Interestingly, SRC-2 joins an increasing number of other coregulators (i.e. REA, prohibitin, and Ncoa6) which recently have been implicated in modulating the responsiveness of the endometrial epithelium to acute estrogen exposure [62]–[64]. Importantly, we can’t discount a role for SRC-2 overexpression in driving persistent prosurvival signaling in the luminal epithelium of the endometrium which may override local apoptotic signals that are known to be required during embryo implantation [55]. To gain further mechanistic insight, our future studies will use the SRC-2:OE mouse to disclose the direct signaling pathways in the endometrium that are significantly altered by changes in SRC-2 levels particularly during the peri-implantation period. "
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    ABSTRACT: As pleiotropic coregulators, members of the p160/steroid receptor coactivator (SRC) family control a broad spectrum of transcriptional responses that underpin a diverse array of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Because of their potent coregulator properties, strict controls on SRC expression levels are required to maintain normal tissue functionality. Accordingly, an unwarranted increase in the cellular levels of SRC members has been causally linked to the initiation and/or progression of a number of clinical disorders. Although knockout mouse models have underscored the critical non-redundant roles for each SRC member in vivo, there are surprisingly few mouse models that have been engineered to overexpress SRCs. This deficiency is significant since SRC involvement in many of these disorders is based on unscheduled increases in the levels (rather than the absence) of SRC expression. To address this deficiency, we used recent mouse technology that allows for the targeted expression of human SRC-2 in cells which express the progesterone receptor. Through cre-loxP recombination driven by the endogenous progesterone receptor promoter, a marked elevation in expression levels of human SRC-2 was achieved in endometrial cells that are positive for the progesterone receptor. As a result of this increase in coregulator expression, female mice are severely subfertile due to a dysfunctional uterus, which exhibits a hypersensitivity to estrogen exposure. Our findings strongly support the proposal from clinical observations that increased levels of SRC-2 are causal for a number of endometrial disorders which compromise fertility. Future studies will use this mouse model to decipher the molecular mechanisms that underpin the endometrial defect. We believe such mechanistic insight may provide new molecular descriptors for diagnosis, prognosis, and/or therapy in the clinical management of female infertility.
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    ABSTRACT: The first two weeks of neonatal life constitute a critical period for estrogen receptor-alpha (ESR1)-dependent uterine adenogenesis in the pig. A relaxin receptor (RXFP1)-mediated, lactocrine-driven mechanism was proposed to explain how nursing could regulate endometrial ESR1 and related gene expression events associated with adenogenesis in the porcine neonate during this period. To determine effects of nursing on endometrial morphogenesis and cell compartment-specific gene expression, gilts (n = 6-8/group) were assigned at birth to be either: A) nursed ad libitum for 48 h; B) gavage-fed milk-replacer for 48 h; C) nursed ad libitum to PND 14; or D) gavage-fed milk-replacer for 48 h followed by ad libitum nursing to PND 14. Uteri were collected on PND 2 or PND 14. Endometrial histoarchitecture and both ESR1 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) labeling indices (LI) were evaluated. Laser microdissection was used to capture epithelium and stroma to evaluate treatment effects on cell compartment-specific ESR1, VEGFA and RXFP1 expression. Imposition of a lactocrine-null state by milk replacer feeding for 48 h from birth retarded endometrial development and adenogenesis. Effects of replacer feeding, evident by PND 2, were marked by PND 14 when endometrial thickness, glandularity and gland depth were reduced. Consistently, in lactocrine-null gilts, PCNA LI was reduced in glandular epithelium (GE) and stroma on PND 14, when epithelial ESR1 expression and ESR1 LI in GE were reduced and stromal VEGFA and RXFP1 expression increased. Results establish that lactocrine signaling effects morphogenetic changes in developing uterine tissues that may determine reproductive capacity later in life.
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