Successful pregnancy requires an appropriate intrauterine immune response to the conceptus, which is a semiallograft within the uterus. We reported that swine leukocyte antigen-DQA (SLA-DQA), a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II gene, is expressed in the uterine endometrium at the time of conceptus implantation in pigs. Because MHC molecules play critical roles in the immune system, SLA-DQ was hypothesized to be involved in immune regulation during pregnancy. Therefore, we examined expression of SLA-DQ in uterine endometrial tissues obtained during the estrous cycle and pregnancy. SLA-DQA and SLA-DQB mRNAs were detected as 1.3-kb and 1.2-kb bands, respectively. Real-time RT-PCR analysis indicated that SLA-DQA and SLA-DQB mRNA expression was affected by day and pregnancy status, with the highest expression on Day 15 of pregnancy. SLA-DQ was localized primarily to subepithelial stromal cells and endothelial cells of the uterus. Using endometrial explant cultures from Day 12 of the estrous cycle, we determined that expression of SLA-DQA and SLA-DQB mRNAs increased in response to interferon-gamma (IFNG), which is produced by pig conceptus trophectoderm between Days 14 and 18 of pregnancy. The abundance of SLA-DQ protein was less in endometria from gilts with conceptuses resulting from somatic cell nuclear transfer compared with endometria from gilts with conceptuses resulting from natural mating. These results support our hypothesis that SLA-DQ is expressed in response to IFNG from the conceptus, and likely regulates immune response at the maternal-fetal interface to support the maintenance of pregnancy in pigs.
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Vol. 86 • No. 2