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1.  Insight into PreImplantation Factor (PIF*) Mechanism for Embryo Protection and Development: Target Oxidative Stress and Protein Misfolding (PDI and HSP) through Essential RIPK Binding Site 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100263.
Background
Endogenous PIF, upon which embryo development is dependent, is secreted only by viable mammalian embryos, and absent in non-viable ones. Synthetic PIF (sPIF) administration promotes singly cultured embryos development and protects against their demise caused by embryo-toxic serum. To identify and characterize critical sPIF-embryo protein interactions novel biochemical and bio-analytical methods were specifically devised.
Methods
FITC-PIF uptake/binding by cultured murine and equine embryos was examined and compared with scrambled FITC-PIF (control). Murine embryo (d10) lysates were fractionated by reversed-phase HPLC, fractions printed onto microarray slides and probed with Biotin-PIF, IDE and Kv1.3 antibodies, using fluorescence detection. sPIF-based affinity column was developed to extract and identify PIF-protein interactions from lysates using peptide mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). In silico evaluation examined binding of PIF to critical targets, using mutation analysis.
Results
PIF directly targets viable cultured embryos as compared with control peptide, which failed to bind. Multistep Biotin-PIF targets were confirmed by single-step PIF-affinity column based isolation. PIF binds protein disulfide isomerases a prolyl-4-hydroxylase β-subunit, (PDI, PDIA4, PDIA6-like) containing the antioxidant thioredoxin domain. PIF also binds protective heat shock proteins (70&90), co-chaperone, BAG-3. Remarkably, PIF targets a common RIPK site in PDI and HSP proteins. Further, single PIF amino acid mutation significantly reduced peptide-protein target bonding. PIF binds promiscuous tubulins, neuron backbones and ACTA-1,2 visceral proteins. Significant anti-IDE, while limited anti-Kv1.3b antibody-binding to Biotin-PIF positive lysates HPLC fractions were documented.
Conclusion
Collectively, data identifies PIF shared targets on PDI and HSP in the embryo. Such are known to play a critical role in protecting against oxidative stress and protein misfolding. PIF-affinity-column is a novel utilitarian method for small molecule targets direct identification. Data reveals and completes the understanding of mechanisms involved in PIF-induced autotrophic and protective effects on the embryo.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100263
PMCID: PMC4077574  PMID: 24983882
2.  PreImplantation Factor (PIF) correlates with early mammalian embryo development-bovine and murine models 
Background
PreImplantation Factor (PIF), a novel peptide secreted by viable embryos is essential for pregnancy: PIF modulates local immunity, promotes decidual pro-adhesion molecules and enhances trophoblast invasion. To determine the role of PIF in post-fertilization embryo development, we measured the peptide's concentration in the culture medium and tested endogenous PIF's potential trophic effects and direct interaction with the embryo.
Methods
Determine PIF levels in culture medium of multiple mouse and single bovine embryos cultured up to the blastocyst stage using PIF-ELISA. Examine the inhibitory effects of anti-PIF-monoclonal antibody (mAb) added to medium on cultured mouse embryos development. Test FITC-PIF uptake by cultured bovine blastocysts using fluorescent microscopy.
Results
PIF levels in mouse embryo culture medium significantly increased from the morula to the blastocyst stage (ANOVA, P = 0.01). In contrast, atretic embryos medium was similar to the medium only control. Detectable - though low - PIF levels were secreted already by 2-cell stage mouse embryos. In single bovine IVF-derived embryos, PIF levels in medium at day 3 of culture were higher than non-cleaving embryos (control) (P = 0.01) and at day 7 were higher than day 3 (P = 0.03). In non-cleaving embryos culture medium was similar to medium alone (control). Anti-PIF-mAb added to mouse embryo cultures lowered blastocyst formation rate 3-fold in a dose-dependent manner (2-way contingency table, multiple groups, X2; P = 0.01) as compared with non-specific mouse mAb, and medium alone, control. FITC-PIF was taken-up by cultured bovine blastocysts, but not by scrambled FITC-PIF (control).
Conclusions
PIF is an early embryo viability marker that has a direct supportive role on embryo development in culture. PIF-ELISA use to assess IVF embryo quality prior to transfer is warranted. Overall, our data supports PIF's endogenous self sustaining role in embryo development and the utility of PIF- ELISA to detect viable embryos in a non-invasive manner.
doi:10.1186/1477-7827-9-63
PMCID: PMC3112407  PMID: 21569635
3.  Specific Strains of Escherichia coli Are Pathogenic for the Endometrium of Cattle and Cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in Cattle and Mice 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9192.
Background
Escherichia coli are widespread in the environment and pathogenic strains cause diseases of mucosal surfaces including the female genital tract. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID; metritis) or endometritis affects ∼40% of cattle after parturition. We tested the expectation that multiple genetically diverse E. coli from the environment opportunistically contaminate the uterine lumen after parturition to establish PID.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Distinct clonal groups of E. coli were identified by Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) from animals with uterine disease and these differed from known diarrhoeic or extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli. The endometrial pathogenic E. coli (EnPEC) were more adherent and invasive for endometrial epithelial and stromal cells, compared with E. coli isolated from the uterus of clinically unaffected animals. The endometrial epithelial and stromal cells produced more prostaglandin E2 and interleukin-8 in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) purified from EnPEC compared with non-pathogenic E. coli. The EnPEC or their LPS also caused PID when infused into the uterus of mice with accumulation of neutrophils and macrophages in the endometrium. Infusion of EnPEC was only associated with bacterial invasion of the endometrium and myometrium. Despite their ability to invade cultured cells, elicit host cell responses and establish PID, EnPEC lacked sixteen genes commonly associated with adhesion and invasion by enteric or extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli, though the ferric yersiniabactin uptake gene (fyuA) was present in PID-associated EnPEC. Endometrial epithelial or stromal cells from wild type but not Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) null mice secreted prostaglandin E2 and chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 1 (CXCL1) in response to LPS from EnPEC, highlighting the key role of LPS in PID.
Conclusions/Significance
The implication arising from the discovery of EnPEC is that development of treatments or vaccines for PID should focus specifically on EnPEC and not other strains of E. coli.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009192
PMCID: PMC2820550  PMID: 20169203
4.  Ovarian follicular cells have innate immune capabilities that modulate their endocrine function 
Reproduction (Cambridge, England)  2007;134(5):683-693.
Oestrogens are pivotal in ovarian follicular growth, development and function, with fundamental roles in steroidogenesis, nurturing the oocyte and ovulation. Infections with bacteria such as Escherichia coli cause infertility in mammals at least in part by perturbing ovarian follicle function, characterised by suppression of oestradiol production. Ovarian follicle granulosa cells produce oestradiol by aromatisation of androstenedione from the theca cells, under the regulation of gonadotrophins such as FSH. Many of the effects of E. coli are mediated by its surface molecule lipopolysaccharide (LPS) binding to the Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4), CD14, MD-2 receptor complex on immune cells, but immune cells are not present inside ovarian follicles. The present study tested the hypothesis that granulosa cells express the TLR4 complex and LPS directly perturbs their secretion of oestradiol. Granulosa cells from recruited or dominant follicles are exposed to LPS in vivo and when they were cultured in the absence of immune cell contamination in vitro they produced less oestradiol when challenged with LPS, although theca cell androstenedione production was unchanged. The suppression of oestradiol production by LPS was associated with down-regulation of transcripts for aromatase in granulosa cells, and did not affect cell survival. Furthermore, these cells expressed TLR4, CD14 and MD-2 transcripts throughout the key stages of follicle growth and development. It appears that granulosa cells have an immune capability to detect bacterial infection, which perturbs follicle steroidogenesis, and this is a likely mechanism by which ovarian follicle growth and function is perturbed during bacterial infection.
doi:10.1530/REP-07-0229
PMCID: PMC2735812  PMID: 17965259
5.  Expression of genes associated with immunity in the endometrium of cattle with disparate postpartum uterine disease and fertility 
Background
Contamination of the uterine lumen with bacteria is ubiquitous in cattle after parturition. Some animals develop endometritis and have reduced fertility but others have no uterine disease and readily conceive. The present study tested the hypothesis that postpartum cattle that develop persistent endometritis and infertility are unable to limit the inflammatory response to uterine bacterial infection.
Methods
Endometrial biopsies were collected several times during the postpartum period from animals that were subsequently infertile with persistent endometritis (n = 4) or had no clinical disease and conceived to first insemination (n = 4). Quantitative PCR was used to determine the expression of candidate genes in the endometrial biopsies, including the Toll-like receptor (TLR 1 to 10) family of innate immune receptors, inflammatory mediators and their cognate receptors. Selected proteins were examined by immunohistochemistry.
Results
The expression of genes encoding pro-inflammatory mediators such as interleukins (IL1A, IL1B and IL6), and nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS2) were higher during the first week post partum than subsequently. During the first week post partum, there was higher gene expression in infertile than fertile animals of TLR4, the receptor for bacterial lipopolysaccharide, and the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL1A and IL1B, and their receptor IL1R2. The expression of genes encoding other Toll-like receptors, transforming growth factor beta receptor 1 (TGFBR1) or prostaglandin E2 receptors (PTGER2 and PTGER4) did not differ significantly between the animal groups. Gene expression did not differ significantly between infertile and fertile animals after the first week postpartum. However, there were higher ratios of IL1A or IL1B mRNA to the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL10, during the first week post partum in the infertile than fertile animals, and the protein products of these genes were mainly localised to the epithelium of the endometrium.
Conclusion
Cattle may maintain fertility by limiting the inflammatory response to postpartum bacterial infection in the endometrium during the first week after parturition.
doi:10.1186/1477-7827-7-55
PMCID: PMC2702306  PMID: 19476661
6.  Ovarian follicular cells have innate immune capabilities that modulate their endocrine function 
Reproduction (Cambridge, England)  2007;134(5):683-693.
Oestrogens are pivotal in ovarian follicular growth, development and function, with fundamental roles in steroidogenesis, nurturing the oocyte and ovulation. Infections with bacteria such as Escherichia coli cause infertility in mammals at least in part by perturbing ovarian follicle function, characterised by suppression of oestradiol production. Ovarian follicle granulosa cells produce oestradiol by aromatisation of androstenedione from the theca cells, under the regulation of gonadotrophins such as FSH. Many of the effects of E. coli are mediated by its surface molecule lipopolysaccharide (LPS) binding to the Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4), CD14, MD-2 receptor complex on immune cells, but immune cells are not present inside ovarian follicles. The present study tested the hypothesis that granulosa cells express the TLR4 complex and LPS directly perturbs their secretion of oestradiol. Granulosa cells from recruited or dominant follicles are exposed to LPS in vivo and when they were cultured in the absence of immune cell contamination in vitro they produced less oestradiol when challenged with LPS, although theca cell androstenedione production was unchanged. The suppression of oestradiol production by LPS was associated with down-regulation of transcripts for aromatase in granulosa cells, and did not affect cell survival. Furthermore, these cells expressed TLR4, CD14 and MD-2 transcripts throughout the key stages of follicle growth and development. It appears that granulosa cells have an immune capability to detect bacterial infection, which perturbs follicle steroidogenesis, and this is a likely mechanism by which ovarian follicle growth and function is perturbed during bacterial infection.
doi:10.1530/REP-07-0229
PMCID: PMC2735812  PMID: 17965259
7.  Trichomonas vaginalis Lipophosphoglycan Triggers a Selective Upregulation of Cytokines by Human Female Reproductive Tract Epithelial Cells  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(10):5773-5779.
Trichomonas vaginalis is one of the most common nonviral sexually transmitted human infections and, worldwide, has been linked to increased incidence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission, preterm delivery, low birth weight, cervical cancer, and vaginitis. The molecular pathways that are important in initiating host inflammatory and immune responses to T. vaginalis are poorly understood. Here we report interactions of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells with the most abundant cell surface glycoconjugate of the parasite, the T. vaginalis lipophosphoglycan (LPG). Purified LPG mediated the adhesion of parasites to human vaginal epithelial cells in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, T. vaginalis LPG (but not LPG from Tritrichomonas foetus, the causative agent of bovine trichomoniasis) induced a selective upregulation of chemotactic cytokines by human endocervical, ectocervical, and vaginal epithelial cells, which do not express Toll-like receptor 4/MD2. The T. vaginalis LPG triggered interleukin 8 (IL-8), which promotes the adhesion and transmigration of neutrophils across the endothelium, and macrophage inflammatory protein 3α, which is a chemoattractant for immune cells and is essential for dendritic cell maturation. These effects were dose dependent and sustained in the absence of cytotoxicity and IL-1β release and utilized, at least in part, a signaling pathway independent from the Toll-like/IL-1 receptor adaptor protein MyD88.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00631-06
PMCID: PMC1594934  PMID: 16988255

Results 1-7 (7)