Subcellular localization of L-selectin ligand in the endometrium implies a novel function for pinopodes in endometrial receptivity

Reza Nejatbakhsh, Maryam Kabir-Salmani, Eva Dimitriadis, Ahmad Hosseini, Robabeh Taheripanah, Yousef Sadeghi, Yoshihiro Akimoto, Mitsutoshi Iwashita

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Background: Apical surfaces of human endometrial epithelium and endothelium are key elements for the initiation of molecular interactions to capture the blastocyst or leukocyte, respectively. The L-selectin adhesion system has been strongly proposed to play an important role in the initial steps of trophoblast adhesion and promotion of integrin-dependent processes, ultimately culminating in the establishment of the embryo-maternal interface. On the basis of these facts, we hypothesized a novel role for pinopodes as the first embryo-fetal contact sites to contain the highest subcellular expression of L-selectin ligand suggesting its role in early adhesion as predicted. Thus, the objective of this study was therefore to determine the subcellular pattern of distribution of the L-selectin ligand (MECA-79) in human endometrial apical membrane region during the window of implantation.Methods: Endometrial biopsies of secretory phases from fertile females ranging in age between 25 and 42years were studied using several approaches, including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), immunostaining for light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and immunoblotting as well as statistical analysis of the area-related numerical densities of immunoreactive MECA-79-bound nanogolds to detect the expression pattern and the subcellular distribution pattern of L-selectin ligand (MECA-79) in human endometrium during the window of implantation.Results: The endometrial biopsies were scored according the dating criteria of Noyes et al. by an experienced histologist. The SEM images of the midluteal phase specimens revealed that fully developed pinopodes were abundant in our samples. HRP-immunostaining and immunofluorescent staining as well as immunoblotting revealed that MECA-79 was expressed in the midluteal phase specimens. The results of immunogold TEM illustrated the expression of MECA-79 in human pinopodes in the midluteal phase and a higher area-relate numerical density in pinopodes compared to that of the uterodome-free areas.Conclusions: This is the first demonstration of the subcellular localization of MECA-79 in the human pinopodes which may indicate a novel role for pinopodes to be capable of shear-stress-dependent tethering-type adhesion in the initial phases of human embryo implantation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Number of pages9
JournalReproductive Biology and Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Endometrium
  • Implantation
  • L-selectin Ligand
  • MECA-79
  • Pinopode
  • Uterodome

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