Clin Exp Reprod Med.  2020 Jun;47(2):114-121. 10.5653/cerm.2019.03454.

Endometrial profilin 1: a key player in embryo-endometrial crosstalk

  • 1Department of Biomedical Science, School of Life Science, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea
  • 2CHA Fertility Center Bundang, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea
  • 3Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea


Despite extensive research on implantation failure, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying the crosstalk between the embryo and the maternal endometrium, which is critical for successful pregnancy. Profilin 1 (PFN1), which is expressed both in the embryo and in the endometrial epithelium, acts as a potent regulator of actin polymerization and the cytoskeletal network. In this study, we identified the specific role of endometrial PFN1 during embryo implantation.
Morphological alterations depending on the status of PFN1 expression were assessed in PFN1-depleted or control cells grown on Matrigel-coated cover glass. Day-5 mouse embryos were cocultured with Ishikawa cells. Comparisons of the rates of F-actin formation and embryo attachment were performed by measuring the stability of the attached embryo onto PFN1-depleted or control cells.
Depletion of PFN1 in endometrial epithelial cells induced a significant reduction in cell-cell adhesion displaying less formation of colonies and a more circular cell shape. Mouse embryos co-cultured with PFN1-depleted cells failed to form actin cytoskeletal networks, whereas more F-actin formation in the direction of surrounding PFN1-intact endometrial epithelial cells was detected. Furthermore, significantly lower embryo attachment stability was observed in PFN1-depleted cells than in control cells. This may have been due to reduced endometrial receptivity caused by impaired actin cytoskeletal networks associated with PFN1 deficiency.
These observations definitively demonstrate an important role of PFN1 in mediating cell-cell adhesion during the initial stage of embryo implantation and suggest a potential therapeutic target or novel biomarker for patients suffering from implantation failure.


Actin cytoskeletal network; Cell-cell adhesion; Embryo attachment; Embryo implantation; Profilin 1
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