Mammals exhibit similar changes in uterine epithelial morphology during early pregnancy despite having a diverse range of placental types. The uterine epithelium undergoes rapid morphological and molecular change (“plasma membrane transformation”) during the early stages of pregnancy to allow attachment of the blastocyst. The domestic cat, Felis catus is in the order Carnivora; all species within the Carnivora studied so far develop an endotheliochorial placenta during pregnancy. The endotheliochorial placental type is a common form of placental invasion in mammals. The molecular changes that allow remodeling of the uterine epithelium in preparation for implantation are unknown in most mammals but would provide us with an understanding of what molecules underpin successful implantation and pregnancy among Carnivora. We used immunofluorescence microscopy to localize the key adherens junction proteins desmoglein-2 and E-cadherin in the lateral plasma membrane of the uterine epithelium of F. catus during pregnancy. We show that redistribution of desmoglein-2 and E-cadherin likely facilitates reduction of cell-to-cell adhesion allowing for implantation of the blastocyst and formation of the placenta. The ultrastructural and molecular changes to the uterine epithelium during early pregnancy in F. catus are similar to that in species with other levels of placental invasiveness, suggesting that key molecules such as desmoglein-2 and E-cadherin are crucial to successful pregnancy across all mammals.
- adherens junction
- domestic cat
- plasma membrane transformation