Production of Retinol-binding Protein by Caprine Conceptus during the Time Period of Maternal Recognition of Pregnancy

  • Liu, K.H. (Department of Veterinary Medicine, National Chiayi University)
  • Received : 2002.11.18
  • Accepted : 2003.03.14
  • Published : 2003.07.01


The purpose of the study were to characterize the proteins secreted by elongating caprine conceptus, to identify a group of low molecular weight proteins as retinol-binding protein (RBP), to identify RBP cell-specific localization in conceptus tissue, and to demonstrate that the conceptuses secreted continuously RBP during the time period maternal recognition of pregnancy. Caprine conceptuses were removed from the uterus between days 16 and 22 of pregnancy, the time period maternal recognition of pregnancy. Isolated conceptuses were cultured in a modified minimum essential medium in the presence of radiolabeled amino acids. Proteins synthesized and secreted into medium were analyzed by fluorography of two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and fluorography. At least five proteins showed consistently a grouping of spots with characteristic location on two-dimensional gels. A major low molecular weight protein consisted of two major isoforms (pI 5.3-6.0) of similar molecular mass (21 kDa) was identified as RBP by using antiserum against RBP. Presence of RBP in conceptus culture medium and uterine flushings between days 16 and 22 of pregnancy were determined by immunoprecipitation and Western blotting using anti-RBP serum. In immunocytochemical study, strong immunostaining for RBP was localized in trophectoderm and endoderm of conceptus. These results clearly demonstrated that the caprine conceptus was active in protein synthesis as early as day 16 of pregnancy. Secretion of RBP by caprine conceptuses (days 16-22) coincident with the rapid transformation of the conceptus from a spherical blastocyst to a filamentous structure. Production of RBP by the elongating conceptuses may be indicative of an important role for conceptus RBP in the transport, availability and metabolism of retinol during maternal recognition of pregnancy.



Supported by : Department of Animal Science, University of Tennessee


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