miRNA Signature and Dicer Requirement During Human Endometrial Stromal Decidualization in Vitro

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41080. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041080. Epub 2012 Jul 20.


Decidualization is a morphological and biochemical transformation of endometrial stromal fibroblast into differentiated decidual cells, which is critical for embryo implantation and pregnancy establishment. The complex regulatory networks have been elucidated at both the transcriptome and the proteome levels, however very little is known about the post-transcriptional regulation of this process. miRNAs regulate multiple physiological pathways and their de-regulation is associated with human disorders including gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and preeclampsia. In this study we profile the miRNAs expression throughout human endometrial stromal (hESCs) decidualization and analyze the requirement of the miRNA biogenesis enzyme Dicer during this process. A total of 26 miRNAs were upregulated and 17 miRNAs downregulated in decidualized hESCs compared to non-decidualized hESCs. Three miRNAs families, miR-181, miR-183 and miR-200, are down-regulated during the decidualization process. Using miRNAs target prediction algorithms we have identified the potential targets and pathways regulated by these miRNAs. The knockdown of Dicer has a minor effect on hESCs during in vitro decidualization. We have analyzed a battery of decidualization markers such as cell morphology, Prolactin, IGFBP-1, MPIF-1 and TIMP-3 secretion as well as HOXA10, COX2, SP1, C/EBPß and FOXO1 expression in decidualized hESCs with decreased Dicer function. We found decreased levels of HOXA10 and altered intracellular organization of actin filaments in Dicer knockdown decidualized hESCs compared to control. Our results provide the miRNA signature of hESC during the decidualization process in vitro. We also provide the first functional characterization of Dicer during human endometrial decidualization although surprisingly we found that Dicer plays a minor role regulating this process suggesting that alternative biogenesis miRNAs pathways must be involved in human endometrial decidualization.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Decidua / cytology*
  • Decidua / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Homeobox A10 Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1 / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Ribonuclease III / metabolism*
  • Stromal Cells / cytology*
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Homeobox A10 Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • MicroRNAs
  • HOXA10 protein, human
  • Ribonuclease III