For implantation and placentation to occur, mouse embryo trophoblast cells must penetrate the uterine stroma to make contact with maternal blood vessels. A major component of the uterine epithelial basement membrane and underlying stromal matrix with which they interact is the extracellular matrix protein laminin. We have identified integrin alpha 7 beta 1 as a major receptor for trophoblast-laminin interactions during implantation and yolk sac placenta formation. It is first expressed by trophectoderm cells of the late blastocyst and by all trophectoderm descendants in the early postimplantation embryo through E8.5, then disappears except in cells at the interface between the allantois and the ectoplacental plate. Integrin alpha 7 expression is a general characteristic of the early differentiation stages of rodent trophoblast, given that two different cultured trophoblast cell lines also express this integrin. Trophoblast cells interact with at least three different laminin isoforms (laminins 1, 2/4, and 10/11) in the blastocyst and in the uterus at the time of implantation. Outgrowth assays using function-blocking antibodies show that alpha 7 beta 1 is the major trophoblast receptor for laminin 1 and a functional receptor for laminins 2/4 and 10/11. When trophoblast cells are cultured on substrates of these three laminins, they attach and spread on all three, but show decreased proliferation on laminin 1. These results show that the alpha 7 beta 1 integrin is expressed by trophoblast cells and acts as receptor for several isoforms of laminin during implantation. These interactions are not only important for trophoblast adhesion and spreading but may also play a role in regulating trophectoderm proliferation and differentiation.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.