• Xia H, Jin X, Cao Z, Hu Y, Ma X. (2014) MicroRNA expression and regulation in the uterus during embryo implantation in rat. FEBS Journal 281(7), 1872-1891.

Embryo implantation is a complex initial step in establishment of a successful pregnancy. Many mRNAs have been shown to be differentially expressed in the rat uterus during embryo implantation. However, the expression profiles of microRNAs (miRNAs), a key post-transcriptional regulator of gene expression, in the rat uterus between the pre-receptive and receptive phases are still unknown. Here, an miRNA microarray was used to examine differential expression of miRNAs in the rat uterus between the pre-receptive and receptive phases. Twenty-eight miRNAs were up-regulated and 29 miRNAs were down-regulated at least twofold during the receptive phase in rat uterus; these results were confirmed by Northern blotting. miR-29a was only highly expressed in rat uterus during the implantation period, and activation of delayed implantation and artificial decidualization enhanced the miR-29a level. Further investigation revealed that both the pro-apoptotic factor genes Bak1 and Bmf and the anti-apoptotic factor gene Bcl-w are targets of miR-29a. There was weak binding between miR-29a and the 3′ UTR of the anti-apoptotic factor gene Mcl1. Over-expression of miR-29a inhibited the late apoptosis of endometrial stromal cells, which may be due to the stronger binding capacity between miR-29a and the 3′ UTR of pro-apoptotic factors than that between miR-29a and the 3′ UTR of anti-apoptotic factors. Collectively, miR-29a plays an important role during embryo implantation by regulating both pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic factors. miR-29a may predominantly bind pro-apoptotic factors, leading to inhibition of cell apoptosis.

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