[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The control of reactivation from embryonic diapause in the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, involves sequential activation of the corpus luteum, secretion of progesterone that stimulates endometrial secretion, and subsequent changes in the uterine environment that activate the embryo. However, the precise signals between the endometrium and the blastocyst are currently unknown. In eutherians, both the phospholipid Paf and its receptor, platelet-activating factor receptor (PTAFR), are present in the embryo and the endometrium. In the tammar, endometrial Paf release in vitro increases around the time of the early progesterone pulse that occurs around the time of reactivation, but whether Paf can reactivate the blastocyst is unknown. We cloned and characterised the expression of PTAFR in the tammar embryo and endometrium at entry into embryonic diapause, during its maintenance, and after reactivation. Tammar PTAFR sequence and protein were highly conserved with mammalian orthologues. In the endometrium, PTAFR was expressed at a constant level in the glandular epithelium across all stages and in the luminal epithelium during both diapause and reactivation. Thus, presence of the receptor appears not to be a limiting factor for Paf actions in the endometrium. However, the low levels of PTAFR in the embryo during diapause, together with its up-regulation and subsequent internalisation at reactivation, supports earlier results suggesting that endometrial Paf could be involved in reactivation of the tammar blastocyst from embryonic diapause.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian embryonic diapause is a phenomenon defined by the temporary arrest in blastocyst growth and metabolic activity within the uterus which synchronously becomes quiescent to blastocyst activation and implantation. This reproductive strategy temporally uncouples conception from parturition until environmental or maternal conditions are favourable for the survival of the mother and newborn. The underlying molecular mechanism by which the uterus and embryo temporarily achieve quiescence, maintain blastocyst survival and then resume blastocyst activation with subsequent implantation remains unknown. Here, we show that uterine expression of Msx1 or Msx2, members of an ancient, highly conserved homeobox gene family, persists in three unrelated mammalian species during diapause, followed by rapid downregulation with blastocyst activation and implantation. Mice with uterine inactivation of Msx1 and Msx2 fail to achieve diapause and reactivation. Remarkably, the North American mink and Australian tammar wallaby share similar expression patterns of MSX1 or MSX2 as in mice-it persists during diapause and is rapidly downregulated upon blastocyst activation and implantation. Evidence from mouse studies suggests that the effects of Msx genes in diapause are mediated through Wnt5a, a known transcriptional target of uterine Msx. These studies provide strong evidence that the Msx gene family constitutes a common conserved molecular mediator in the uterus during embryonic diapause to improve female reproductive fitness.
Open Biology 01/2013; 3(4):130035. · 3.27 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early marsupial conceptuses differ markedly from those of eutherian mammals, especially during cleavage and early blastocyst stages of development. Additionally, in marsupials the zona pellucida is surrounded by two acellular layers, the mucoid coat and shell, which are formed from secretions from the reproductive tract.
We report the identification of a novel postovulatory coat component in marsupials, which we call uterinesecreted microprotein (USM). USM belongs to a family of disulfide-rich microproteins of unconfirmed function that is found throughout deuterostomes and in some protostomes, and includes β-microseminoprotein (MSMB) and prostate-associated microseminoprotein (MSMP). We describe the evolution of this family in detail, including USM-related sequences in other vertebrates. The orthologue of USM in the tammar wallaby, USM1, is expressed by the endometrium with a dynamic temporal profile, possibly under the control of progesterone.
USM appears to have evolved in a mammalian ancestor specifically as a component of the postovulatory coats. By analogy with the known properties of MSMB, it may have roles in regulating sperm motility/survival or in the immune system. However, its C-terminal domain is greatly truncated compared with MSMB, suggesting a divergent function.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The thymus plays a critical role in the development and maturation of T-cells. Humans have a single thoracic thymus and presence of a second thymus is considered an anomaly. However, many vertebrates have multiple thymuses. The tammar wallaby has two thymuses: a thoracic thymus (typically found in all mammals) and a dominant cervical thymus. Researchers have known about the presence of the two wallaby thymuses since the 1800s, but no genome-wide research has been carried out into possible functional differences between the two thymic tissues. Here, we used pyrosequencing to compare the transcriptomes of a cervical and thoracic thymus from a single 178 day old tammar wallaby.
We show that both the tammar thoracic and the cervical thymuses displayed gene expression profiles consistent with roles in T-cell development. Both thymuses expressed genes that mediate distinct phases of T-cells differentiation, including the initial commitment of blood stem cells to the T-lineage, the generation of T-cell receptor diversity and development of thymic epithelial cells. Crucial immune genes, such as chemokines were also present. Comparable patterns of expression of non-coding RNAs were seen. 67 genes differentially expressed between the two thymuses were detected, and the possible significance of these results are discussed.
This is the first study comparing the transcriptomes of two thymuses from a single individual. Our finding supports that both thymuses are functionally equivalent and drive T-cell development. These results are an important first step in the understanding of the genetic processes that govern marsupial immunity, and also allow us to begin to trace the evolution of the mammalian immune system.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In developing mammalian males, conversion of the Wolffian ducts into the epididymides and vasa deferentia depends on androgen secretion by the testes, whereas in females these ducts remain in a vestigial form or regress. However, there is continuing uncertainty whether the androgen needs to be delivered locally, either by diffusion from the adjacent testis or, by secretion into the lumen of the duct, or whether circulating androgens maintain and virilize the Wolffian ducts. To resolve this uncertainty, we transplanted either day 0-2 or day 8-9 post-partum testes beneath the flank skin of three groups of neonatal (days 0-1) female tammar wallabies, where they developed and secreted physiological levels of hormones. The Wolffian ducts of all these females were retained and had formed extensive epididymides when examined at days 25, 34 and 87 after birth. In the two older groups of females, sampled after the time of prostatic bud formation, the urogenital sinus was virilized and there was extensive prostatic development similar to that of normal males of the same age, showing that androgen secretion had occurred. Virilization of the Wolffian ducts occurred during an early but short-lived window of sensitivity. This study provides the first clear evidence that under physiological conditions virilization can be mediated by circulating androgen.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dihydrotestosterone in androgen target tissues is formed under most circumstances by the 5alpha-reduction of testosterone, but an alternate pathway involves the oxidation of androstanediol to dihydrotestosterone. To investigate the mechanism by which androgens virilize the Wolffian ducts in the tammar wallaby, [(3)H]progesterone was incubated with testes from d 10 and 19 pouch young, and radioactivity was recovered in testosterone and androstanediol at both ages. Analysis of the intermediates indicates that androstanediol was formed both from testosterone via 5alpha-reduction and 3alpha-keto reduction and directly from 5alpha-reduced progestogens. 5alpha-Reductase activity was high in minces of mesonephros/epididymis from d 6-21 pouch young. When minces of urogenital tract tissues from d 19 pouch young were incubated with [(3)H]testosterone, [(3)H]dihydrotestosterone, and [(3)H]androstanediol, dihydrotestosterone was the principal androgen formed in the mesonephros/epididymis, urogenital sinus, and urogenital tubercle, whereas androstanediol was the principal androgen formed by the testis. In intact pouch young studied between d 10 and 34, administration of the 5alpha-reductase inhibitor, 17beta-(N,N-diethyl)carbamoyl-4-methyl-4-aza-5alpha-androstan-3-one, blocked virilization of the Wolffian ducts in males, and administration of androstanediol caused virilization of the Wolffian ducts in females. We conclude that dihydrotestosterone, largely formed in the tissue by the oxidation of androstanediol derived from the testes and also the 5alpha-reduction of testosterone, is responsible for Wolffian duct virilization in this species.