Proprotein convertase 5/6 cleaves platelet-derived growth factor A in the human endometrium in preparation for embryo implantation

Sarah Grace Paule, Thomas Nebl, Andrew Webb, Beverley Janine Vollenhoven, Luk Rombauts, Guiying Nie

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Establishment of endometrial receptivity is vital for successful embryo implantation. Proprotein convertase 5/6 (referred to as PC6) is up-regulated in the human endometrium specifically at the time of epithelial receptivity. PC6, a serine protease of the proprotein convertase family, plays an important role in converting precursor proteins into their active forms through specific proteolysis. The proform of platelet derived growth factor A (pro-PDGFA) requires PC cleavage to convert to the active-PDGFA. We investigated the PC6-mediated activation of PDGFA in the human endometrium during the establishment of receptivity. Proteomic analysis identified that the pro-PDGFA was increased in the conditioned medium of HEC1A cells in which PC6 was stably knocked down by small interfering RNA (PC6-siRNA). Western blot analysis demonstrated an accumulation of the pro-PDGFA but a reduction in the active-PDGFA in PC6-siRNA cell lysates and medium compared to control. PC6 cleavage of pro-PDGFA was further confirmed in vitro by incubation of recombinant pro-PDGFA with PC6. Immunohistochemistry revealed cycle-stage-specific localization of the active-PDGFA in the human endometrium. During the non-receptive phase, the active-PDGFA was barely detectable. In contrast, it was localized specifically to the apical surface of the luminal and glandular epithelium in the receptive phase. Furthermore, the active-PDGFA was detected in uterine lavage with levels being significantly higher in the receptive than the non-receptive phase. We thus identified that the secreted PDGFA may serve as a biomarker for endometrial receptivity. This is also the first study demonstrating that the active-PDGFA localizes to the apical surface of the endometrium during receptivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262 - 270
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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