Changes in the CD-1 mouse uterine transcriptome during proestrus and estrus were investigated to help elucidate mechanisms of uterine tissue remodeling during the estrus cycle and their regulation by estrogen and progesterone in preparation of the uterus for pregnancy. Mice were staged beginning at 6 weeks of age, and uterine horns were harvested after monitoring two estrus cycles. Microarray analysis of whole uterine horn RNA identified 2428 genes differentially expressed in estrus compared to proestrus, indicating there is extensive remodeling of mouse uterus during the estrus cycle, affecting ∼10% of all protein-encoding genes. Many (∼50%) of these genes showed the same differential expression in independent analyses of isolated uterine lumenal epithelial cells. Changes in gene expression associated with structural alterations of the uterus included remodeling of the extracellular matrix, changes in cell keratins and adhesion molecules, activation of mitosis and changes in major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII) presentation, complement and coagulation cascades, and cytochrome P450 expression. Signaling pathways regulated during the estrus cycle, involving ligand-gated channels, Wnt and hedgehog signaling, and transcription factors with poorly understood roles in reproductive tissues, included several genes and gene networks that have been implicated in pathological states. Many of the molecular pathways and biological functions represented by the genes differentially expressed from proestrus to estrus are also altered during the human menstrual cycle, although not necessarily at the corresponding phases of the cycle. These findings establish a baseline for further studies in the mouse model to dissect mechanisms involved in uterine tissue response to endocrine disruptors and the development of reproductive tract diseases.
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Vol. 89 • No. 1