, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 769-779

Sialyl-Lewis x and Sialyl-Lewis a are associated with MUC1 in human endometrium

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Abstract

Endometrial epithelial cells express MUC1 with increased abundance in the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle, when embryo implantation occurs. MUC1 is associated with the apical surface of epithelial cells and is also secreted, being detectable in uterine fluid at elevated levels in the implantation phase. However, its physiological role is uncertain; it may either inhibit intercellular adhesion by steric hindrance or carry carbohydrate recognition structures capable of mediating cell-cell interaction. Here we show that endometrial epithelium expresses both Sialyl-Lewis x (SLex) and Sialyl-Lewis a (SLea), with a distribution and pattern of menstrual cycle regulation similar to that of MUC1. Using Western blotting and double determinant ELISA of uterine flushings, we demonstrate that SLex is associated with MUC1 core protein. The endometrial carcinoma cell lines HEC1A and HEC1B are shown to express MUC1 in a mosaic pattern, while three other cell lines express much lower amounts. HEC1A expresses both SLex and SLea while HEC1B expresses SLea only. Immunoprecipitation has been used to demonstrate that SLea is associated with MUC1 in HEC1B cells, and both SLex and SLea are associated with MUC1 in HEC1A cells.