Loss of ITGB3 in ovine conceptuses decreases conceptus expression of NOS3 and SPP1: implications for the developing placental vasculature.
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During the peri-implantation period of pregnancy in sheep, there is an initial period of loose apposition of the elongating conceptuses (embryos and associated placental membranes) to the endometrial luminal epithelium (LE) that is followed by adhesion of the conceptus trophectoderm to the endometrial LE for implantation. Integrins and maternal extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules are major contributors to stable adhesion at implantation, and the 3 integrin subunit (ITGB3) is implicated in the adhesion cascade for implantation in several species including the sheep. We blocked mRNA translation for trophectoderm-expressed ITGB3 by infusing morpholino antisense oligonucleotides into the uterine lumen of pregnant ewes on Day 9 to assess effects on conceptus elongation, and on Day 16 to assess effects on early placental development in sheep. Results indicate that sheep conceptuses elongate and implant to the uterine wall in the absence of ITGB3 expression by the conceptuses; however, loss of ITGB3 in conceptuses decreased the growth of embryos to Day 24 of gestation, and decreased expression of secreted phosphoprotein 1 (SPP1) and nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3). Abundant SPP1 was localized around the blood vessels in the placental allantoic membrane in normal sheep pregnancies. We hypothesize that NOS3 and SPP1 positively influence the development of the vasculature within the allantois, and that decreased expression of NOS3 and SPP1, in response to knockdown of ITGB3 in conceptuses, alters development of the vasculature in the allantois required to transport nutrients from the endometrium to support growth and development of the embryo.