Osteopontin: a leading candidate adhesion molecule for implantation in pigs and sheep. Academic Article uri icon


  • Osteopontin (OPN; also known as Secreted Phosphoprotein 1, SPP1) is a secreted extra-cellular matrix (ECM) protein that binds to a variety of cell surface integrins to stimulate cell-cell and cell-ECM adhesion and communication. It is generally accepted that OPN interacts with apically expressed integrin receptors on the uterine luminal epithelium (LE) and conceptus trophectoderm to attach the conceptus to the uterus for implantation. Research conducted with pigs and sheep has significantly advanced understanding of the role(s) of OPN during implantation through exploitation of the prolonged peri-implantation period of pregnancy when elongating conceptuses are free within the uterine lumen requiring extensive paracrine signaling between conceptus and endometrium. This is followed by a protracted and incremental attachment cascade of trophectoderm to uterine LE during implantation, and development of a true epitheliochorial or synepitheliochorial placenta exhibited by pigs and sheep, respectively. In pigs, implanting conceptuses secrete estrogens which induce the synthesis and secretion of OPN in adjacent uterine LE. OPN then binds to v6 integrin receptors on trophectoderm, and the v3 integrin receptors on uterine LE to bridge conceptus attachment to uterine LE for implantation. In sheep, implanting conceptuses secrete interferon tau that prolongs the lifespan of CL. Progesterone released by CL then induces OPN synthesis and secretion from the endometrial GE into the uterine lumen where OPN binds integrins expressed on trophectoderm (v3) and uterine LE (identity of specific integrins unknown) to adhere the conceptus to the uterus for implantation. OPN binding to the v3 integrin receptor on ovine trophectoderm cells induces in vitro focal adhesion assembly, a prerequisite for adhesion and migration of trophectoderm, through activation of: 1) P70S6K via crosstalk between FRAP1/MTOR and MAPK pathways; 2) MTOR, PI3K, MAPK3/MAPK1 (Erk1/2) and MAPK14 (p38) signaling to stimulate trohectoderm cell migration; and 3) focal adhesion assembly and myosin II motor activity to induce migration of trophectoderm cells. Further large in vivo focal adhesions assemble at the uterine-placental interface of both pigs and sheep and identify the involvement of sizable mechanical forces at this interface during discrete periods of trophoblast migration, attachment and placentation in both species.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci Biotechnol

author list (cited authors)

  • Johnson, G. A., Burghardt, R. C., & Bazer, F. W.

citation count

  • 71

complete list of authors

  • Johnson, Greg A||Burghardt, Robert C||Bazer, Fuller W

publication date

  • January 2014