Constitutive Notch Signaling Causes Abnormal Development of the Oviducts, Abnormal Angiogenesis, and Cyst Formation in Mouse Female Reproductive Tract1

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Abstract

The Notch signaling pathway is critical for the differentiation of many tissues and organs in the embryo. To study the consequences of Notch1 gain-of-function signaling on female reproductive tract development, we used a cre-loxP strategy andAmhr2-cretransgene to generate mice with conditionally activated Notch1 (RosaNotch1). TheAmhr2-cretransgene is expressed in the mesenchyme of developing female reproductive tract and in granulosa cells in the ovary. Double transgenicAmhr2-cre, RosaNotch1females were infertile, whereas controlRosaNotch1mice had normal fertility. All female reproductive organs in mutants showed hemorrhaging of blood vessels progressing with age. The mutant oviducts did not develop coiling, and were instead looped around the ovary. There were multiple blockages in the lumen along the oviduct length, creating a barrier for sperm or oocyte passage. Mutant females demonstrated inflamed uteri with increased vascularization and an influx of inflammatory cells. Additionally, older females developed ovarian, oviductal, and uterine cysts. The significant change in gene expression was detected in the mutant oviduct expression ofWnt4, essential for female reproductive tract development. Similar oviductal phenotypes have been detected previously in mice with activatedSmoand inbeta-catenin,Wnt4,Wnt7a, andDicerconditional knockouts, indicating a common regulatory pathway disrupted by these genetic abnormalities.

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