Global gene profiling in human endometrium during the window of implantation

Endocrinology. 2002 Jun;143(6):2119-38. doi: 10.1210/endo.143.6.8885.


Implantation in humans is a complex process that is temporally and spatially restricted. Over the past decade, using a one-by-one approach, several genes and gene products that may participate in this process have been identified in secretory phase endometrium. Herein, we have investigated global gene expression during the window of implantation (peak E2 and progesterone levels) in well characterized human endometrial biopsies timed to the LH surge, compared with the late proliferative phase (peak E2 level) of the menstrual cycle. Tissues were processed for poly(A(+)) RNA and hybridization of chemically fragmented, biotinylated cRNAs on high density oligonucleotide microarrays, screening for 12,686 genes and expressed sequence tags. After data normalization, mean values were obtained for gene readouts and fold ratios were derived comparing genes up- and down-regulated in the window of implantation vs. the late proliferative phase. Nonparametric testing revealed 156 significantly (P < 0.05) up-regulated genes and 377 significantly down-regulated genes in the implantation window. Up-regulated genes included those for cholesterol trafficking and transport [apolipoprotein (Apo)E being the most induced gene, 100-fold], prostaglandin (PG) biosynthesis (PLA2) and action (PGE2 receptor), proteoglycan synthesis (glucuronyltransferase), secretory proteins [glycodelin, mammaglobin, Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1, a Wnt inhibitor)], IGF binding protein (IGFBP), and TGF-beta superfamilies, signal transduction, extracellular matrix components (osteopontin, laminin), neurotransmitter synthesis (monoamine oxidase) and receptors (gamma aminobutyric acid A receptor pi subunit), numerous immune modulators, detoxification genes (metallothioneins), and genes involved in water and ion transport [e.g. Clostridia Perfringens Enterotoxin (CPE) 1 receptor (CPE1-R) and K(+) ion channel], among others. Down-regulated genes included intestinal trefoil factor (ITF) [the most repressed gene (50-fold)], matrilysin, members of the G protein-coupled receptor signaling pathway, frizzled-related protein (FrpHE, a Wnt antagonist), transcription factors, TGF-beta signaling pathway members, immune modulators (major histocompatibility complex class II subunits), and other cellular functions. Validation of select genes was conducted by Northern analysis and RT-PCR using RNA from endometrial biopsies obtained in the proliferative phase and the implantation window and by RT-PCR using RNA from cultured endometrial epithelial and stromal cells. These approaches confirmed up-regulation of genes corresponding to IGFBP-1, glycodelin, CPE1-R, Dkk-1, mammaglobin, and ApoD and down-regulation for PR membrane component 1, FrpHE, matrilysin, and ITF, as with the microarray data. Cultured endometrial epithelial cells were found to express mRNAs for glycodelin, CPE-1R, Dkk-1, the gamma aminobutyric acid A receptor pi subunit, mammaglobin, matrilysin, ITF and PR membrane component 1. The expression of IGFBP-1, CPE1-R, Dkk-1, and ApoD mRNAs increased upon decidualization of stromal cells in vitro with progesterone after E2 priming, whereas FrpHE decreased, consistent with the microarray results. Overall, the data demonstrate numerous genes and gene families not heretofore recognized in human endometrium or associated with the implantation process. Reassuringly, several gene products, known to be differentially expressed in the implantation window or in secretory endometrium, were verified, and the striking regulation of select secretory proteins, water and ion channels, signaling molecules, and immune modulators underscores the important roles of these systems in endometrial development and endometrial-embryonic interactions. In addition, the current study validates using high density oligonucleotide microarray technology to investigate global changes in gene expression in human endometrium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Fingerprinting
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Down-Regulation / physiology
  • Embryo Implantation / genetics*
  • Endometrium / cytology
  • Endometrium / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Stromal Cells / physiology
  • Up-Regulation / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / physiology


  • RNA, Messenger