by Takashi Chaen, Toshihiro Konno, Mahiro Egashira, Rulan Bai, Nana Nomura, Shintaro Nomura, Yasushi Hirota, Toshihiro Sakurai, Kazuhiko Imakawa
Embryo implantation is a highly orchestrated process that involves blastocyst-uterine interactions. This process is confined to a defined interval during gestation referred to as the “window of embryo implantation receptivity”. In mice this receptive period is controlled by ovarian estrogen and involves a coordination of blastocyst adhesion competence and uterine receptivity. Mechanisms coordinating the acquisition of blastocyst adhesion competence and uterine receptivity are largely unknown. Here, we show that ovarian estrogen indirectly regulates blastocyst adhesion competence. Acquisition of blastocyst adhesion competence was attributed to integrin activation (e.g. formation of adhesion complexes) rather than de novo integrin synthesis. Osteopontin (OPN) was identified as an estrogen-dependent uterine endometrial gland secretory factor responsible for activating blastocyst adhesion competence. Increased adhesion complex assembly in OPN-treated blastocysts was mediated through focal adhesion kinase (FAK)- and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-dependent signaling pathways. These findings define for the first time specific regulatory components of an estrogen-dependent pathway coordinating blastocyst adhesion competence and uterine receptivity.