FOXO Transcription Factors: From Cell Fate Decisions to Regulation of Human Female Reproduction

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Abstract

All key reproductive events in the human ovary and uterus, including follicle activation, ovulation, implantation, decidualization, luteolysis and menstruation, are dependent upon profound tissue remodelling, characterised by cyclical waves of cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, tissue breakdown and regeneration. FOXO transcription factors, an evolutionarily conserved subfamily of the forkhead transcription factors, have emerged as master regulators ofcell fate decision capable ofintegrating avariety ofstress, growth factor and cytokine signaling pathways with the transcription machinery. The ability of FOXOs to regulate seemingly opposing cellular responses, ranging from cell cycle arrest and oxidative stress responses to differentiation and apoptosis, renders these transcription factors indispensable for cyclic tissue remodelling in female reproduction. Conversely, perturbations in the expression or activity of FOXO transcription factors are increasingly linked to common reproductive disorders, such as pregnancy loss, endometriosis, endometrial cancer and primary ovarian insufficiency.