Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common, debilitating disorder affecting millions of women. Uterosacral ligaments (USLs) are the main supportive structures of the uterus and vagina and are often attenuated in women with POP. Although the mechanical strength of USLs is known to be dependent on collagen synthesis and catabolism and the degradation protein MMP2 has been implicated in POP, the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of POP are currently unknown. Homeobox (HOX) genes are transcriptional regulators that orchestrate embryonic development of the urogenital tract. We demonstrated here that HOXA11 was essential for organogenesis of the USL by showing that USLs were absent in Hoxa11-null mice. We compared expression of HOXA11, collagen type I, collagen type III, MMP2, and MMP9 in USLs of women with and without POP. Expression of HOXA11 and both collagens was dramatically decreased while MMP2 was increased in women with POP. Constitutive expression of Hoxa11 in murine fibroblasts resulted in significantly increased expression of collagen type III and decreased expression of MMP2. These results identified HOXA11 as an essential gene for the development of the USL and suggested that women with POP might have weakened connective tissue due to changes in a signaling pathway involving HOXA11, collagen type III, and MMP2.
Kathleen A. Connell, Marsha K. Guess, Heidi Chen, Vaagn Andikyan, Richard Bercik, Hugh S. Taylor
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with a variety of adverse neonatal outcomes including altered reproductive performance. Herein we provide molecular evidence for a pathway involved in the elimination of the female germline due to prepregnancy and/or lactational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), environmental toxicants found in cigarette smoke. We show that ovaries of offspring born to mice exposed to PAHs contained only a third of the ovarian follicle pool compared with offspring of unexposed female mice. Activation of the cell death pathway in immature follicles of exposed females was mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr), as ovarian reserve was fully rescued by maternal cotreatment with the Ahr antagonist, resveratrol, or by inactivation of the Ahr gene. Furthermore, in response to PAHs, Ahr-mediated activation of the harakiri, BCL2 interacting protein (contains only BH3 domain), was necessary for execution of cell death. This pathway appeared to be conserved between mouse and human, as xenotransplanted human ovarian cortex exposed to PAHs responded by activation of the identical cell death cascade. Our data indicate that maternal exposure to PAHs prior to pregnancy and/or during lactation compromises ovarian reserve of female offspring, raising the concern about the transgenerational impact of maternal smoking on ovarian function in the human.
Andrea Jurisicova, Asako Taniuchi, Han Li, Yuan Shang, Monica Antenos, Jacqui Detmar, Jing Xu, Tiina Matikainen, Adalberto Benito Hernández, Gabriel Nunez, Robert F. Casper
Uterine decidualization, a process that occurs in response to embryo implantation, is critical for embryonic survival and thus is a key event for successful pregnancy. Here we show that the sphingolipid metabolic pathway is highly activated in the deciduum during pregnancy and disturbance of the pathway by disruption of sphingosine kinase (Sphk) genes causes defective decidualization with severely compromised uterine blood vessels, leading to early pregnancy loss. Sphk-deficient female mice (Sphk1–/–Sphk2+/–) exhibited both an enormous accumulation of dihydrosphingosine and sphingosine and a reduction in phosphatidylethanolamine levels in pregnant uteri. These mice also revealed increased cell death in decidual cells, decreased cell proliferation in undifferentiated stromal cells, and massive breakage of decidual blood vessels, leading to uterine hemorrhage and early embryonic lethality. Thus, sphingolipid metabolism regulates proper uterine decidualization and blood vessel stability. Our findings also suggest that disturbance in sphingolipid metabolism may be considered as a cause of pregnancy loss in humans.
Kiyomi Mizugishi, Cuiling Li, Ana Olivera, Jacek Bielawski, Alicja Bielawska, Chu-Xia Deng, Richard L. Proia
β-Glucosidase 2 (GBA2) is a resident enzyme of the endoplasmic reticulum thought to play a role in the metabolism of bile acid–glucose conjugates. To gain insight into the biological function of this enzyme and its substrates, we generated mice deficient in GBA2 and found that these animals had normal bile acid metabolism. Knockout males exhibited impaired fertility. Microscopic examination of sperm revealed large round heads (globozoospermia), abnormal acrosomes, and defective mobility. Glycolipids, identified as glucosylceramides by mass spectrometry, accumulated in the testes, brains, and livers of the knockout mice but did not cause obvious neurological symptoms, organomegaly, or a reduction in lifespan. Recombinant GBA2 hydrolyzed glucosylceramide to glucose and ceramide; the same reaction catalyzed by the β-glucosidase acid 1 (GBA1) defective in subjects with the Gaucher’s form of lysosomal storage disease. We conclude that GBA2 is a glucosylceramidase whose loss causes accumulation of glycolipids and an endoplasmic reticulum storage disease.
Yildiz Yildiz, Heidrun Matern, Bonne Thompson, Jeremy C. Allegood, Rebekkah L. Warren, Denise M.O. Ramirez, Robert E. Hammer, F. Kent Hamra, Siegfried Matern, David W. Russell
Adrenomedullin (AM) is a multifunctional peptide vasodilator that is essential for life. Plasma AM expression dramatically increases during pregnancy, and alterations in its levels are associated with complications of pregnancy including fetal growth restriction (FGR) and preeclampsia. Using AM+/– female mice with genetically reduced AM expression, we demonstrate that fetal growth and placental development are seriously compromised by this modest decrease in expression. AM+/– female mice had reduced fertility characterized by FGR. The incidence of FGR was also influenced by the genotype of the embryo, since AM–/– embryos were more often affected than either AM+/– or AM+/+ embryos. We demonstrate that fetal trophoblast cells and the maternal uterine wall have coordinated and localized increases in AM gene expression at the time of implantation. Placentas from growth-restricted embryos showed defects in trophoblast cell invasion, similar to defects that underlie human preeclampsia and placenta accreta. Our data provide a genetic in vivo model to implicate both maternal and, to a lesser extent, embryonic levels of AM in the processes of implantation, placentation, and subsequent fetal growth. This study provides the first genetic evidence to our knowledge to suggest that a modest reduction in human AM expression during pregnancy may have an unfavorable impact on reproduction.
Manyu Li, Della Yee, Terry R. Magnuson, Oliver Smithies, Kathleen M. Caron
Synchronized preimplantation embryo development and passage through the oviduct into the uterus are prerequisites for implantation, dysregulation of which often leads to pregnancy failure in women. Cannabinoid/endocannabinoid signaling via cannabinoid receptor CB1 is known to influence early pregnancy. Here we provide evidence that a critical balance between anandamide synthesis by N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine–selective phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD) and its degradation by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) in mouse embryos and oviducts creates locally an appropriate “anandamide tone” for normal development of embryos and their oviductal transport. FAAH inactivation yielding higher anandamide or experimentally induced higher cannabinoid [(-)-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol] levels constrain preimplantation embryo development with aberrant expression of Cdx2, Nanog, and Oct3/4, genes known to direct lineage specification. Defective oviductal embryo transport arising from aberrant endocannabinoid signaling also led to deferred on-time implantation and poor pregnancy outcome. Intercrossing between wild-type and Faah–/– mice rescued developmental defects, not oviductal transport, implying that embryonic and maternal FAAH plays differential roles in these processes. The results suggest that FAAH is a key metabolic gatekeeper, regulating on-site anandamide tone to direct preimplantation events that determine the fate of pregnancy. This study uncovers what we believe to be a novel regulation of preimplantation processes, which could be clinically relevant for fertility regulation in women.
Haibin Wang, Huirong Xie, Yong Guo, Hao Zhang, Toshifumi Takahashi, Philip J. Kingsley, Lawrence J. Marnett, Sanjoy K. Das, Benjamin F. Cravatt, Sudhansu K. Dey
More than 70% of patients survive childhood leukemia, but chemotherapy and radiation therapy cause irreversible impairment of spermatogenesis. Although autotransplantation of germ cells holds promise for restoring fertility, contamination by leukemic cells may induce relapse. In this study, we isolated germ cells from leukemic mice by FACS sorting. The cell population in the high forward-scatter and low side-scatter regions of dissociated testicular cells from leukemic mice were analyzed by staining for MHC class I heavy chain (H-2Kb/H-2Db) and for CD45. Cells that did not stain positively for H-2Kb/H-2Db and CD45 were sorted as the germ cell–enriched fraction. The sorted germ cell–enriched fractions were transplanted into the testes of recipient mice exposed to alkylating agents. Transplanted germ cells colonized, and recipient mice survived. Normal progeny were produced by intracytoplasmic injection of sperm obtained from recipient testes. When unsorted germ cells from leukemic mice were transplanted into recipient testes, all recipient mice developed leukemia. The successful birth of offspring from recipient mice without transmission of leukemia to the recipients indicates the potential of autotransplantation of germ cells sorted by FACS to treat infertility secondary to anticancer treatment for childhood leukemia.
Kazutoshi Fujita, Hiroshi Ohta, Akira Tsujimura, Tetsuya Takao, Yasushi Miyagawa, Shingo Takada, Kiyomi Matsumiya, Teruhiko Wakayama, Akihiko Okuyama
Since cAMP blocks meiotic maturation of mammalian and amphibian oocytes in vitro and cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 3A (PDE3A) is primarily responsible for oocyte cAMP hydrolysis, we generated PDE3A-deficient mice by homologous recombination. The Pde3a–/– females were viable and ovulated a normal number of oocytes but were completely infertile, because ovulated oocytes were arrested at the germinal vesicle stage and, therefore, could not be fertilized. Pde3a–/– oocytes lacked cAMP-specific PDE activity, contained increased cAMP levels, and failed to undergo spontaneous maturation in vitro (up to 48 hours). Meiotic maturation in Pde3a–/– oocytes was restored by inhibiting protein kinase A (PKA) with adenosine-3′,5′-cyclic monophosphorothioate, Rp-isomer (Rp-cAMPS) or by injection of protein kinase inhibitor peptide (PKI) or mRNA coding for phosphatase CDC25, which confirms that increased cAMP-PKA signaling is responsible for the meiotic blockade. Pde3a–/– oocytes that underwent germinal vesicle breakdown showed activation of MPF and MAPK, completed the first meiotic division extruding a polar body, and became competent for fertilization by spermatozoa. We believe that these findings provide the first genetic evidence indicating that resumption of meiosis in vivo and in vitro requires PDE3A activity. Pde3a–/– mice represent an in vivo model where meiotic maturation and ovulation are dissociated, which underscores inhibition of oocyte maturation as a potential strategy for contraception.
Silvia Masciarelli, Kathleen Horner, Chengyu Liu, Sun Hee Park, Mary Hinckley, Steven Hockman, Taku Nedachi, Catherine Jin, Marco Conti, Vincent Manganiello