Thirteen percent of pregnancies result in preterm birth or stillbirth, accounting for fifteen million preterm births and three and a half million deaths annually. A significant cause of these adverse pregnancy outcomes is in utero infection by vaginal microorganisms. To establish an in utero infection, vaginal microbes enter the uterus by ascending infection; however, the mechanisms by which this occurs are unknown. Using both in vitro and murine models of vaginal colonization and ascending infection, we demonstrate how a vaginal microbe, group B streptococcus (GBS), which is frequently associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, uses vaginal exfoliation for ascending infection. GBS induces vaginal epithelial exfoliation by activation of integrin and β-catenin signaling. However, exfoliation did not diminish GBS vaginal colonization as reported for other vaginal microbes. Rather, vaginal exfoliation increased bacterial dissemination and ascending GBS infection, and abrogation of exfoliation reduced ascending infection and improved pregnancy outcomes. Thus, for some vaginal bacteria, exfoliation promotes ascending infection rather than preventing colonization. Our study provides insight into mechanisms of ascending infection by vaginal microbes.
Jay Vornhagen, Blair Armistead, Verónica Santana-Ufret, Claire Gendrin, Sean Merillat, Michelle Coleman, Phoenicia Quach, Erica Boldenow, Varchita Alishetti, Christina Leonhard-Melief, Lisa Y. Ngo, Christopher Whidbey, Kelly S. Doran, Chad Curtis, Kristina M. Adams Waldorf, Elizabeth Nance, Lakshmi Rajagopal
Spermatogenesis is regulated by the 2 pituitary gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This process is considered impossible without the absolute requirement of LH-stimulated testicular testosterone (T) production. The role of FSH remains unclear because men and mice with inactivating FSH receptor (FSHR) mutations are fertile. We revisited the role of FSH in spermatogenesis using transgenic mice expressing a constitutively strongly active FSHR mutant in a LH receptor–null (LHR-null) background. The mutant FSHR reversed the azoospermia and partially restored fertility of Lhr–/– mice. The finding was initially ascribed to the residual Leydig cell T production. However, when T action was completely blocked with the potent antiandrogen flutamide, spermatogenesis persisted. Hence, completely T-independent spermatogenesis is possible through strong FSHR activation, and the dogma of T being a sine qua non for spermatogenesis may need modification. The mechanism for the finding appeared to be that FSHR activation maintained the expression of Sertoli cell genes considered androgen dependent. The translational message of our findings is the possibility of developing a new strategy of high-dose FSH treatment for spermatogenic failure. Our findings also provide an explanation of molecular pathogenesis for Pasqualini syndrome (fertile eunuchs; LH/T deficiency with persistent spermatogenesis) and explain how the hormonal regulation of spermatogenesis has shifted from FSH to T dominance during evolution.
Olayiwola O. Oduwole, Hellevi Peltoketo, Ariel Poliandri, Laura Vengadabady, Marcin Chrusciel, Milena Doroszko, Luna Samanta, Laura Owen, Brian Keevil, Nafis A. Rahman, Ilpo T. Huhtaniemi
Uncovering the causes of pregnancy complications such as preterm labor requires greater insight into how the uterus remains in a noncontractile state until term and then surmounts this state to enter labor. Here, we show that dynamic generation and erasure of the repressive histone modification tri-methyl histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) in decidual stromal cells dictate both elements of pregnancy success in mice. In early gestation, H3K27me3-induced transcriptional silencing of select gene targets ensured uterine quiescence by preventing the decidua from expressing parturition-inducing hormone receptors, manifesting type 1 immunity, and most unexpectedly, generating myofibroblasts and associated wound-healing responses. In late gestation, genome-wide H3K27 demethylation allowed for target gene upregulation, decidual activation, and labor entry. Pharmacological inhibition of H3K27 demethylation in late gestation not only prevented term parturition, but also inhibited delivery while maintaining pup viability in a noninflammatory model of preterm parturition. Immunofluorescence analysis of human specimens suggested that similar regulatory events might occur in the human decidua. Together, these results reveal the centrality of regulated gene silencing in the uterine adaptation to pregnancy and suggest new areas in the study and treatment of pregnancy disorders.
Patrice Nancy, Johan Siewiera, Gabrielle Rizzuto, Elisa Tagliani, Ivan Osokine, Priyanka Manandhar, Igor Dolgalev, Caterina Clementi, Aristotelis Tsirigos, Adrian Erlebacher
Natural and synthetic progestogens have been commonly used to prevent recurrent pregnancy loss in women with inadequate progesterone secretion or reduced progesterone sensitivity. However, the clinical efficacy of progesterone and its analogs for maintaining pregnancy is variable. Additionally, the underlying cause of impaired endometrial progesterone responsiveness during early pregnancy remains unknown. Here, we demonstrated that uterine-selective depletion of BMI1, a key component of the polycomb repressive complex-1 (PRC1), hampers uterine progesterone responsiveness and derails normal uterine receptivity, resulting in implantation failure in mice. We further uncovered genetic and biochemical evidence that BMI1 interacts with the progesterone receptor (PR) and the E3 ligase E6AP in a polycomb complex–independent manner and regulates the PR ubiquitination that is essential for normal progesterone responsiveness. A close association of aberrantly low endometrial BMI1 expression with restrained PR responsiveness in women who had previously had a miscarriage indicated that the role of BMI1 in endometrial PR function is conserved in mice and in humans. In addition to uncovering a potential regulatory mechanism of BMI1 that ensures normal endometrial progesterone responsiveness during early pregnancy, our findings have the potential to help clarify the underlying causes of spontaneous pregnancy loss in women.
Qiliang Xin, Shuangbo Kong, Junhao Yan, Jingtao Qiu, Bo He, Chan Zhou, Zhangli Ni, Haili Bao, Lin Huang, Jinhua Lu, Guoliang Xia, Xicheng Liu, Zi-Jiang Chen, Chao Wang, Haibin Wang
The spermatogenesis/oogenesis helix-loop-helix (SOHLH) proteins SOHLH1 and SOHLH2 play important roles in male and female reproduction. Although previous studies indicate that these transcriptional regulators are expressed in and have in vivo roles in postnatal ovaries, their expression and function in the embryonic ovary remain largely unknown. Because oocyte differentiation is tightly coupled with the onset of meiosis, it is of significant interest to determine how early oocyte transcription factors regulate these two processes. In this issue of the
T. Rajendra Kumar
Following migration of primordial germ cells to the genital ridge, oogonia undergo several rounds of mitotic division and enter meiosis at approximately E13.5. Most oocytes arrest in the dictyate (diplotene) stage of meiosis circa E18.5. The genes necessary to drive oocyte differentiation in parallel with meiosis are unknown. Here, we have investigated whether expression of spermatogenesis and oogenesis bHLH transcription factor 1 (
Yong-Hyun Shin, Yu Ren, Hitomi Suzuki, Kayla J. Golnoski, Hyo won Ahn, Vasil Mico, Aleksandar Rajkovic
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are negative modulators of gene expression that fine-tune numerous biological processes. miRNA loss-of-function rarely results in highly penetrant phenotypes, but rather, influences cellular responses to physiologic and pathophysiologic stresses. Here, we have reported that a single member of the evolutionarily conserved miR-7 family, miR-7a2, is essential for normal pituitary development and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) function in adulthood. Genetic deletion of
Kashan Ahmed, Mary P. LaPierre, Emanuel Gasser, Rémy Denzler, Yinjie Yang, Thomas Rülicke, Jukka Kero, Mathieu Latreille, Markus Stoffel
Autoimmune responses to meiotic germ cell antigens (MGCA) that are expressed on sperm and testis occur in human infertility and after vasectomy. Many MGCA are also expressed as cancer/testis antigens (CTA) in human cancers, but the tolerance status of MGCA has not been investigated. MGCA are considered to be uniformly immunogenic and nontolerogenic, and the prevailing view posits that MGCA are sequestered behind the Sertoli cell barrier in seminiferous tubules. Here, we have shown that only some murine MGCA are sequestered. Nonsequestered MCGA (NS-MGCA) egressed from normal tubules, as evidenced by their ability to interact with systemically injected antibodies and form localized immune complexes outside the Sertoli cell barrier. NS-MGCA derived from cell fragments that were discarded by spermatids during spermiation. They egressed as cargo in residual bodies and maintained Treg-dependent physiological tolerance. In contrast, sequestered MGCA (S-MGCA) were undetectable in residual bodies and were nontolerogenic. Unlike postvasectomy autoantibodies, which have been shown to mainly target S-MGCA, autoantibodies produced by normal mice with transient Treg depletion that developed autoimmune orchitis exclusively targeted NS-MGCA. We conclude that spermiation, a physiological checkpoint in spermatogenesis, determines the egress and tolerogenicity of MGCA. Our findings will affect target antigen selection in testis and sperm autoimmunity and the immune responses to CTA in male cancer patients.
Kenneth S.K. Tung, Jessica Harakal, Hui Qiao, Claudia Rival, Jonathan C.H. Li, Alberta G.A. Paul, Karen Wheeler, Patcharin Pramoonjago, Constance M. Grafer, Wei Sun, Robert D. Sampson, Elissa W.P. Wong, Prabhakara P. Reddi, Umesh S. Deshmukh, Daniel M. Hardy, Huanghui Tang, C. Yan Cheng, Erwin Goldberg
Alexander N. Comninos, Matthew B. Wall, Lysia Demetriou, Amar J. Shah, Sophie A. Clarke, Shakunthala Narayanaswamy, Alexander Nesbitt, Chioma Izzi-Engbeaya, Julia K. Prague, Ali Abbara, Risheka Ratnasabapathy, Victoria Salem, Gurjinder M. Nijher, Channa N. Jayasena, Mark Tanner, Paul Bassett, Amrish Mehta, Eugenii A. Rabiner, Christoph Hönigsperger, Meire Ribeiro Silva, Ole Kristian Brandtzaeg, Elsa Lundanes, Steven Ray Wilson, Rachel C. Brown, Sarah A. Thomas, Stephen R. Bloom, Waljit S. Dhillo
Hooman Mirzakhani, Augusto A. Litonjua, Thomas F. McElrath, George O’Connor, Aviva Lee-Parritz, Ronald Iverson, George Macones, Robert C. Strunk, Leonard B. Bacharier, Robert Zeiger, Bruce W. Hollis, Diane E. Handy, Amitabh Sharma, Nancy Laranjo, Vincent Carey, Weilliang Qiu, Marc Santolini, Shikang Liu, Divya Chhabra, Daniel A. Enquobahrie, Michelle A. Williams, Joseph Loscalzo, Scott T. Weiss