Pig conceptuses increase uterine interferon-regulatory factor 1 (IRF1), but restrict expression to stroma through estrogen-induced IRF2 in luminal epithelium. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pig conceptuses secrete estrogen for pregnancy recognition, and they secrete interferons (IFNs) gamma and delta during the peri-implantation period. The uterine effects of pig IFNs are not known, although ruminant conceptuses secrete IFN tau for pregnancy recognition, and this increases the expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) in the endometrium. In sheep, the transcriptional repressor interferon-regulatory factor 2 (IRF2) is expressed in the endometrial luminal epithelium (LE) and appears to restrict IFN tau induction of most ISGs, including IRF1, to the stroma and glands. Interestingly, MX1, which is an ISG in sheep, is also expressed in the endometrial stroma of pregnant pigs. The objective of the present study was to determine if estrogen and/or conceptus secretory proteins (CSPs) that contain IFNs regulate IRF1 and IRF2 in pig endometria. The endometrial levels of IRF1 and IRF2 were low throughout the estrus cycle. After Day 12 of pregnancy, the levels of the classical ISGs, which include IRF1, STAT2, MIC, and B2M, increased in the overall endometrium, with expression of IRF1 and STAT2 being specifically localized to the stroma. IRF2 increased in the LE after Day 12. To determine the effects of estrogen, pigs were treated with 17 beta-estradiol benzoate (E2). To determine the CSP effects, pigs were treated with E2 and implanted with mini-osmotic pumps that delivered control serum proteins (CX) to one ligated uterine horn and CSP to the other horn. Estrogen increased the level of IRF2 in the endometrial LE. The administration of E2 and infusion of CSP increased the level of IRF1 in the stroma. These results suggest that conceptus estrogen induces IRF2 in the LE and limits the induction of IRF1 by conceptus IFNs to the stroma. The cell-specific expression of IRF1 and IRF2 in the pig endometrium highlights the complex and overlapping events that are associated with gene expression during the peri-implantation period, when pregnancy recognition signaling and uterine remodeling for implantation and placentation are necessary for successful pregnancy.

published proceedings

  • Biol Reprod

author list (cited authors)

  • Joyce, M. M., Burghardt, J. R., Burghardt, R. C., Hooper, R. N., Jaeger, L. A., Spencer, T. E., Bazer, F. W., & Johnson, G. A.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Joyce, Margaret M||Burghardt, James R||Burghardt, Robert C||Hooper, R Neil||Jaeger, Laurie A||Spencer, Thomas E||Bazer, Fuller W||Johnson, Greg A

publication date

  • August 2007