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  • Enhanced focal adhesion assembly reflects increased mechanosensation and mechanotransduction at maternal-conceptus interface and uterine wall during ovine pregnancy.

Enhanced focal adhesion assembly reflects increased mechanosensation and mechanotransduction at maternal-conceptus interface and uterine wall during ovine pregnancy.

Reproduction (Cambridge, England) (2008-12-09)
Robert C Burghardt, James R Burghardt, James D Taylor, Adele T Reeder, Bar T Nguen, Thomas E Spencer, Kayla J Bayless, Greg A Johnson
ABSTRACT

The integrity of the fetal-maternal interface is critical for proper fetal nourishment during pregnancy. Integrins are important adhesion molecules present at the interface during implantation; however, in vivo evidence for integrin activation and focal adhesion formation at the maternal-conceptus interface is limited. We hypothesized that focal adhesion assembly in uterine luminal epithelium (LE) and conceptus trophectoderm (Tr) results from integrin binding of extracellular matrix (ECM) at this interface to provide increased tensile forces and signaling to coordinate utero-placental development. An ovine model of unilateral pregnancy was used to evaluate mechanotransduction events leading to focal adhesion assembly at the maternal-conceptus interface and within the uterine wall. Animals were hysterectomized on days 40, 80, or 120 of pregnancy, and uteri immunostained for integrins (ITGAV, ITGA4, ITGA5, ITGB1, ITGB3, and ITGB5), ECM proteins (SPP1, LGALS15, fibronectin (FN), and vitronectin (VTN)), cytoskeletal molecules (ACTN and TLN1), and a signal generator (PTK2). Focal adhesion assembly in myometrium and stroma was also studied to provide a frame of reference for mechanical stretch of the uterine wall. Large focal adhesions containing aggregates of ITGAV, ITGA4, ITGA5, ITGB1, ITGB5, ACTN, and PTK2 were detected in interplacentomal uterine LE and Tr of gravid but not non-gravid uterine horns and increased during pregnancy. SPP1 and LGALS15, but not FN or VTN, were present along LE and Tr interfaces in both uterine horns. These data support the idea that focal adhesion assembly at the maternal-conceptus interface reflects adaptation to increasing forces caused by the growing fetus. Cooperative binding of multiple integrins to SPP1 deposited at the maternal-conceptus interface forms an adhesive mosaic to maintain a tight connection between uterine and placental surfaces along regions of epitheliochorial placentation in sheep.

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