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This article is the author’s final published version in eBioMedicine, Volume 88, January 2023, Article number 104433.

The published version is available at Copyright © Cai et al.


Background: Successful embryo implantation requires the attachment of a blastocyst to the receptive endometrial epithelium, which was disturbed in the women with recurrent implantation failure (RIF). Endometrial β3-integrin was the most important adhesion molecule contributing to endometrial receptivity in both humans and mice. Nur77 has been proven indispensable for fertility in mice, here we explore the role of Nur77 on embryo-epithelial adhesion and potential treatment to embryo implantation failure.

Methods: The expression and location of Mst1 and Nur77 in endometrium from fertile women and RIF patients were examined by IHC, qRT-PCR and Western blotting. In vitro kinase assay following with LC-MS/MS were used to identify the phosphorylation site of Nur77 activated by Mst1. The phosphorylated Nur77 was detected by phos-tag SDS-PAGE assay and specific antibody against phospho-Nur77-Thr366. The effect of embryo-epithelium interaction was determined in the BeWo spheroid or mouse embryo adhesion assay, and delayed implantation mouse model. RNA-seq was used to explore the mechanism by which Nur77 derived peptide promotes endometrial receptivity.

Findings: Endometrial Mammalian sterile 20 (STE20)-like kinase 1 (Mst1) expression level was decreased in the women with RIF than that in the fertile control group, while Mst1 activation in the epithelial cells promoted trophoblast-uterine epithelium adhesion. The effect of Nur77 mediated trophoblast-uterine epithelium adhesion was facilitated by active Mst1. Mechanistically, mst1 promotes the transcription activity of Nur77 by phosphorylating Nur77 at threonine 366 (T366), and consequently increased downstream target β3-integrin expression. Furthermore, a Nur77-derived peptide containing phosphorylated T366 markedly promoted mouse embryo attachment to Ishikawa cells ([4 (2-4)] vs [3 (2-4)]) and increased the embryo implantation rate (4 vs 1.4) in a delayed implantation mouse model by regulating integrin signalling. Finally, it is observed that the endometrial phospho-Nur77 (T366) level is decreased by 80% in the women with RIF.

Interpretation: In addition to uncovering a potential regulatory mechanism of Mst1/Nur77/β3-integrin signal axis involved in the regulation of embryo-epithelium interaction, our finding provides a novel marker of endometrial receptivity and a potential therapeutic agent for embryo implantation failure.

Funding: National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFC1004400), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (82171653, 82271698, 82030040, 81971387 and 30900727), and National Institutes of Health grants (R01HL103869).

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