Endometrial calbindins are critical for embryo implantation: Evidence from in vivo use of morpholino antisense oligonucleotides

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The endometrium is receptive to embryo implantation only for a short period in each reproductive cycle: development of receptivity requires alterations in endometrial gene expression. Calbindin (CaBP)-d9k and CaBP-d28k are related proteins containing EF hand motifs that have a high affinity for Ca2+. We previously demonstrated that endometrial expression of CaBP-d9k mRNA is highly regulated during implantation in the mouse. This project aimed to determine the temporal and spatial expression of both CaBP proteins during early pregnancy and to establish whether they are necessary for blastocyst implantation. CaBP-d28k protein, like CaBP-d9k, was up-regulated in the endometrial epithelium just before implantation but disappeared at implantation sites after attachment. By the judicious intrauterine injection of morpholino oligonucleotides (MO) against CaBP-d9k into WT and CaBP-d28k null mice just before implantation, we selectively eliminated one or both CaBPs from the uterine epithelium. Implantation was blocked only when both CaBP-d9k and CaBP-d28k were absent: treated WT mice and untreated CaBP-d28k null mice were fertile. Furthermore, the effect on implantation was highly dependent on the timing of injection of MO. This report examining the function of implantation-related genes in the uterus using MO demonstrates that this technique is a highly effective means to specifically target uterine proteins in vivo. This study provides evidence for an absolute requirement for CaBPs during the early phase of embryo implantation, and thus that regulation of Ca2+ availability in the uterine environment of the implanting embryo is critical for successful implantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8028-8033
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2004

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