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Keywords:

  • uterus;
  • implantation;
  • focal adhesions;
  • focal adhesion kinase;
  • ovarian hormones

Abstract

Focal adhesions play an important role in promoting embryo invasion; in particular, focal adhesions disassemble at the time of implantation in the rat, facilitating the detachment of the uterine luminal epithelium to allow the embryo to invade the endometrium. This study investigated focal adhesion protein, focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in the rat uterine luminal, and glandular epithelial cells to understand the dynamics of focal adhesions during early pregnancy. FAK undergoes extensive distributional change during early pregnancy, and surprisingly, FAK was not localized at the site of focal adhesions, instead being localized to the site of cell-to-cell contact and colocalizing with ZO-1 on day 1 of pregnancy. At the time of implantation, FAK increases in the apical region of the uterine luminal epithelial cells which was regulated by progesterone. Using an in vitro co-culture model of rat blastocysts attached to Ishikawa cells, FAK was present apically both in the rat blastocyst and the Ishikawa cells, suggesting a role in attachment andin mediating signal transduction between these two genetically different cell types. J. Morphol., 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.