Dual source and target of heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor during the onset of implantation in the hamster

Xiaohong Wang, Haibin Wang, Hiromichi Matsumoto, Shyamal K. Roy, Sanjoy K. Das, Bibhash C. Paria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Heparin binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF), encoded by the Hegfl gene, is considered as an important mediator of embryo-uterine interactions during implantation in mice. However, it is unknown whether HB-EGF is important for implantation in species with different steroid hormonal requirements. In mice and rats, maternal ovarian estrogen and progesterone (P4) are essential to implantation. In contrast, blastocyst implantation can occur in hamsters in the presence Of P4 alone. To ascertain whether HB-EGF plays any role in implantation in hamsters, we examined the expression, regulation and signaling of HB-EGF in the hamster embryo and uterus during the periimplantation period. We demonstrate that both the blastocyst and uterus express HB-EGF during implantation. Hegfl is expressed solely in the uterine luminal epithelium surrounding the blastocyst prior to and during the initiation of implantation. Hypophysectomized P4-treated pregnant hamsters also showed a similar pattern of implantation-specific Hegfl expression. These results suggest that uterine Hegfl expression at the implantation site is driven by either signals emanating from the blastocyst or maternal P4, but not by maternal estrogen. However, in ovariectomized hamsters, uterine induction of Hegfl requires the presence of estrogen and activation of its nuclear receptor (ER), but not P4. This observation suggests an intriguing possibility that an estrogenic or unidentified signal from the blastocyst is the trigger for uterine HB-EGF expression. An auto-induction of Hegfl in the uterus by blastocyst-derived HB-EGF is also a possibility. We further observed that HB-EGF induces autophosphorylation of ErbB1 and ErbB4 in the uterus and blastocyst. Taken together, we propose that HB-EGF production and signaling by the blastocyst and uterus orchestrate the 'two-way' molecular signaling to initiate the process of implantation in hamsters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4125-4134
Number of pages10
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Blastocyst
  • ErbB receptor
  • Hamster
  • Hb-EGF
  • Implantation
  • Uterus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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