Caprine uterine and placental osteopontin expression is distinct among epitheliochorial implanting species.
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Osteopontin (OPN) is the most highly up-regulated extracellular matrix/adhesion molecule in the uterus of humans and domestic animals as it becomes receptive to implantation. Studies in sheep and pigs have shown that OPN is a component of ovine and porcine histotroph characterized by a complex temporal and spatial pattern of uterine and conceptus expression involving immune, epithelial, and stromal cells. It is proposed that these expression events are orchestrated to contribute to conceptus attachment and placentation. However, differences in OPN expression between sheep and pigs have been detected that relate to differences in placentation. Therefore, this study examined OPN expression in the caprine uterus and conceptus to gain insight into mechanisms underlying OPN function(s) during pregnancy through comparative analysis of differences in placentation between pigs, sheep, and goats. Goats were hysterectomized (n = 5/day) on Days 5, 11, 13, 15, 17 or 19 of the estrous cycle, and Days 5, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19 or 25 of pregnancy. Slot-blot hybridization showed increases in endometrial OPN mRNA beginning on Day 17 of the estrous cycle and Day 19 of pregnancy. In situ hybridization localized OPN mRNA to endometrial glandular epithelium (GE), Day 25 myometrium, and cells scattered within the placenta hypothesized to be immune. Immunofluorescence microscopy detected OPN protein on the apical surface of endometrial lumenal epithelium (LE), in GE, and on conceptus (Tr). Western blot analysis detected primarily the native 70-kDa OPN protein in endometrial extracts from the estrous cycle and pregnancy, as well as in uterine flushings from pregnant goats. Co-induction of OPN and alpha-smooth muscle actin, but not desmin proteins, was observed in uterine stroma by Day 25 of pregnancy. OPN in cyclic GE, Day 25 myometrium, and desmin-negative endometrial stroma is unique and reflects subtle differences among superficial implanting species that correlate with the depth of Tr invasion.