Single-cell sequencing of neonatal uterus reveals an Misr2+ endometrial progenitor indispensable for fertility.

Published on Jun 24, 2019in eLife7.08
· DOI :10.7554/ELIFE.46349
Hatice D. Saatcioglu7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Harvard University),
Motohiro Kano2
Estimated H-index: 2
(Harvard University)
+ 16 AuthorsDavid Pépin15
Estimated H-index: 15
(Harvard University)
In the womb, mammals possess all of the preliminary sexual structures necessary to become either male or female. This includes the Mullerian duct, which develops into the Fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and vagina in female fetuses. In male fetuses, the testis secretes a hormone called Mullerian inhibiting substance (MIS). This triggers the activity of a small group of cells, known as Misr2+ cells, that cause the Mullerian duct to degenerate, preventing males from developing female sexual organs. It was not clear what happens to Misr2+ cells in female fetuses or if they affect how the uterus develops. Saatcioglu et al. now show that in newborn female mice and rats, a type of Misr2+ cell that sits within a thin inner layer of the developing uterus still responds to MIS. At this time, the uterus is in a critical early period of development. Treating the mice and rats with MIS protein during their first six days of life eventually caused the Misr2+ cells to die. The treatment also prevented a layer of connective tissue, known as the endometrial stroma, from forming in the uterus. As a result, the mice and rats were infertile and had severely underdeveloped uteri. While the Misr2+ cells are present in newborn rats and mice, Saatcioglu et al. found that they disappeared before birth in humans. However, the overall results suggest that Misr2+ cells act as progenitor cells that develop into the cells of the endometrial stroma. Future work could investigate the roles these cells play in causing uterine developmental disorders and infertility disorders. Furthermore, the finding that MIS inhibits the Misr2+ cells could help researchers to develop treatments for uterine cancer and other conditions where the cells of the uterus grow and divide too much.
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