IN SITU AND IN VITRO IMMUNOLOCALIZATION OF OVIDUCTIN BINDING SITES ON HAMSTER UTERINE EPITHELIAL CELLS AND DETECTION OF A HAMSTER OVIDUCTIN HOMOLOGUE IN THE FEMALE RAT REPRODUCTIVE TRACT
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Oviductin is an oviduct-specific and high-molecular-weight glycoprotein that has been suggested to play important roles in the early events of reproduction. The present study was undertaken to localize the oviductin binding sites in the uterine epithelial cells of the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) both in situ and in vitro, and to detect a hamster oviductin homologue in the female rat reproductive tract. Immunohistochemical localization of oviductin in the hamster uterus revealed certain uterine epithelial cells reactive to the monoclonal anti-hamster oviductin antibody. In order to study the interaction between hamster oviductin and the endometrium in vitro, a method for culturing primary hamster uterine epithelial cells has been established and optimized. Study with confocal microscopy of the cell culture system showed a labeling pattern similar to what was observed using immunohistochemistry. Pre-embedding immunolabeling of cultured uterine epithelial cells also showed gold particles associated with the plasma membrane and microvilli. These results demonstrated that hamster oviductin can bind to the plasma membrane of certain hamster uterine epithelial cells, suggesting the presence of a putative oviductin receptor on the uterine epithelial cell surface. In the second part of the present study, using the monoclonal anti-hamster oviductin antibody that cross-reacts with the rat tissue, we have been able to detect an oviduct-specific glycoprotein, with a molecular weight of 180~300kDa, in the female rat reproductive tract. Immunohistochemical labeling of the female rat reproductive tract revealed a strong immunolabeling in the non-ciliated oviductal epithelial cells and a faint immunoreaction on the cell surface of some uterine epithelial cells. Ultrastructurally, immunogold labeling was restricted to the secretory granules, Golgi apparatus, and microvilli of the non-ciliated secretory cells of the oviduct. In the uterus, immunogold labeling was observed on the cell surface of some uterine epithelial cells. Furthermore, electron micrographs of ovulated oocytes showed an intense immunolabeling for rat oviductin within the perivitelline space surrounding the ovulated oocytes. The findings of the present study demonstrated that oviductin is present in the rat oviduct and uterus, and it appears that, in the rat, oviductin is secreted by the non-ciliated secretory cells of the oviduct.