Recombineering-based dissection of flanking and paralogous Hox gene functions in mouse reproductive tracts
ABSTRACT Hox genes are key regulators of development. In mammals, the study of these genes is greatly confounded by their large number, overlapping functions and interspersed shared enhancers. Here, we describe the use of a novel recombineering strategy to introduce simultaneous frameshift mutations into the flanking Hoxa9, Hoxa10 and Hoxa11 genes, as well as their paralogs on the HoxD cluster. The resulting Hoxa9,10,11 mutant mice displayed dramatic synergistic homeotic transformations of the reproductive tracts, with the uterus anteriorized towards oviduct and the vas deferens anteriorized towards epididymis. The Hoxa9,10,11 mutant mice also provided a genetic setting that allowed the discovery of Hoxd9,10,11 redundant reproductive tract patterning function. Both shared and distinct Hox functions were defined. Hoxd9,10,11 play a crucial role in the regulation of uterine immune function. Non-coding non-polyadenylated RNAs were among the key Hox targets, with dramatic downregulation in mutants. We observed Hox cross-regulation of transcription and splicing. In addition, we observed a surprising anti-dogmatic apparent posteriorization of the uterine epithelium. In caudal regions of the uterus, the normal simple columnar epithelium flanking the lumen was replaced by a pseudostratified transitional epithelium, normally found near the more posterior cervix. These results identify novel molecular functions of Hox genes in the development of the male and female reproductive tracts.
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ABSTRACT: Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and their receptors (FGFR) regulate luminal epithelial (LE) cell proliferation in the adult mouse uterus. This study tested the hypothesis that FGFR2 has a biological role in postnatal development and function of the uterus by conditionally deleting Fgfr2 after birth using progesterone receptor (Pgr)-Cre mice. Adult Fgfr2 mutant female mice were initially subfertile and became infertile with increasing parity. No defects in uterine gland development were observed in conditional Fgfr2 mutant mice. In the adult, Fgfr2 mutant mice possessed a histologically normal reproductive tract with the exception of the uterus. The luminal epithelium (LE) of the Fgfr2 mutant uterus was stratified, but no obvious histological differences were observed in the glandular epithelium, stroma or myometrium. Within the stratified LE, cuboidal basal cells were present and positive for basal cell markers (KRT14 and TRP63). Nulliparous bred Fgfr2 mutants contained normal numbers of blastocysts on Day 3.5 postmating, but the number of embryo implantation sites was substantially reduced on Day 5.5 postmating. These results support the idea that loss of FGFR2 in the uterus after birth alters its development, resulting in LE stratification and peri-implantation pregnancy loss.Biology of Reproduction 11/2013; 90(1). DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.113.114496 · 3.45 Impact Factor