Mechanism of action of interferon-tau in the uterus during early pregnancy. Academic Article uri icon


  • Early pregnancy is maintained in ruminants through the actions of conceptus-derived interferon (IFN)-tau on the endometrium. IFN-tau alters uterine release of PGF2 alpha' which results in rescue of the corpus luteum and continued release of progesterone. The mechanism of action of IFN-tau includes inhibition of oestradiol receptors, consequent reduction in oxytocin receptors, activation of a cyclooxygenase inhibitor, and a shift in the PGs to favour PGE2 over PGF2 alpha' IFN-tau also induces several endometrial proteins that may be critical for survival of the developing embryo. One endometrial protein induced by pregnancy and IFN-tau has been identified as bovine granulocyte chemotactic protein-2 (bGCP-2). This chemotactic cytokine (chemokine) has been used as a marker to delineate IFN-tau from IFN-alpha responses in the endometrium. A second protein, called ubiquitin cross-reactive protein (UCRP), resembles a tandem ubiquitin repeat. UCRP becomes conjugated to cytosolic endometrial proteins in response to IFN-tau and pregnancy. Proteins conjugated to UCRP are either modulated or targeted for processing through the proteasome. The action of IFN-tau is mediated by induction of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT-1), STAT-2 and interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) transcription factors. Induction of these transcription factors, the alpha chemokines and UCRP is the prelude to maternal recognition of pregnancy in ruminants.

published proceedings

  • J Reprod Fertil Suppl

author list (cited authors)

  • Hansen, T. R., Austin, K. J., Perry, D. J., Pru, J. K., Teixeira, M. G., & Johnson, G. A.

citation count

  • 78

complete list of authors

  • Hansen, TR||Austin, KJ||Perry, DJ||Pru, JK||Teixeira, MG||Johnson, GA

publication date

  • January 1999