Interferon stimulated gene 15 conjugates to endometrial cytosolic proteins and is expressed at the uterine-placental interface throughout pregnancy in sheep. Academic Article uri icon


  • Interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15) is a ubiquitin homolog expressed in uteri of ruminants in response to interferon (IFN)-tau and is also induced during pregnancy in the uteri of mice, pigs, humans, and baboons. This study examined expression of ISG15 and its conjugation to target proteins in the ovine uterus beyond the period of IFNtau secretion by the conceptus. Although steady-state levels of ISG15 mRNA decreased after d 25 of pregnancy, ISG15 persisted in endometrium through d 120. In situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry localized ISG15 across the entire uterine wall through d 25, after which expression was restricted to endometrial stroma along the maternal-placental interface. Western blots revealed ISG15 and ISG15-conjugated proteins in endometrium. Treatment of ovariectomized sheep with progesterone and IFNtau increased both free and conjugated ISG15. These results are the first to show in vivo regulation of ISG15 function (i.e. conjugation to target proteins) by a type I IFN in the uterus of any species and that ISG15 is expressed at contacts between the placenta and uterus when trophectoderm no longer produces IFNtau. Interestingly, mRNA for the type II IFNgamma was present in the endometrial stromal compartment on d 15-50, which may stimulate the synthesis of ISG15 through later pregnancy. We hypothesize that ISG15 is not merely a consequence of an antiviral state induced by trophoblast IFNtau but represents a critical component of the microenvironment at the uterine-placental interface during the progressive events of conceptus development, implantation, and placentation in sheep and perhaps other mammalian species.

published proceedings

  • Endocrinology

author list (cited authors)

  • Joyce, M. M., White, F. J., Burghardt, R. C., Muiz, J. J., Spencer, T. E., Bazer, F. W., & Johnson, G. A.

citation count

  • 52

complete list of authors

  • Joyce, Margaret M||White, Frankie J||Burghardt, Robert C||Muñiz, Jesus J||Spencer, Thomas E||Bazer, Fuller W||Johnson, Greg A

publication date

  • February 2005