Establishment of pregnancy in ruminants requires conceptus elongation and production of interferon-τ (IFNT), the pregnancy recognition signal that maintains ovarian progesterone (P4) production. These studies determined temporal and spatial alterations in IGF binding protein (IGFBP)-1 and IGFBP3 in the ovine and bovine uterus; effects of P4 and IFNT on their expression in the ovine uterus; and effects of IGFBP1 on ovine trophectoderm cell proliferation, migration, and attachment. IGFBP1 and IGFBP3 were studied because they are the only IGFBPs specifically expressed by the endometrial luminal epithelia in sheep. In sheep, IGFBP1 and IGFBP3 expression was coordinate with the period of conceptus elongation, whereas only IGFBP1 expression was coordinate with conceptus elongation in cattle. IGFBP1 mRNA in the ovine endometria was between 5- and 29-fold more abundant between d 12 and 16 of pregnancy compared with the estrous cycle and greater on d 16 of pregnancy than nonpregnancy in the bovine uterus. In sheep, P4 induced and IFNT stimulated expression of IGFBP1 but not IGFBP3; however, the effect of IFNT did not mimic the abundant increase observed in pregnant ewes. Therefore, IGFBP1 expression in the endometrium is regulated by another factor from the conceptus. IGFBP1 did not affect the proliferation of ovine trophectoderm cells in vitro but did stimulate their migration and mediate their attachment. These studies reveal that IGFBP1 is a common endometrial marker of conceptus elongation in sheep and cattle and most likely regulates conceptus elongation by stimulating migration and attachment of the trophectoderm.
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