The forkhead box O1A (FOXO1A) has been identified as one gene that is up-regulated early in the decidualization process. To further investigate the role of FOXO1A during this process, six genes, IGFBP1, PRL, TIMP3, LAMB1, CNR1, and DCN, shown to be up-regulated during decidualization, were chosen as potential targets of FOXO1A action. Treatment of human endometrial stromal cells with hormones (estradiol and medroxyprogesterone acetate) plus dibutyryl cAMP (H+dbcAMP) for 48 h increased expression of IGFBP1, PRL, TIMP3, CNR1, and DCN but not LAMB1, as measured by real-time PCR. Silencing of FOXO1A using small interfering RNA oligonucleotides decreased IGFBP1 and DCN levels and increased CNR1, TIMP3, and PRL levels. LAMB1 was not affected. When FOXO1A was overexpressed in human endometrial stromal cells, expression of IGFBP1, DCN, and PRL increased, whereas levels of TIMP3 and CNR1 decreased. Addition of H+dbcAMP caused an increased expression of IGFBP1, PRL, and DCN beyond that of FOXO1A alone. TIMP3 and CNR1 levels decreased even further in response to H+dbcAMP compared with FOXO1A alone. LAMB1, which was unresponsive to FOXO1A, decreased when H+dbcAMP was added. Overexpressing FOXO1A also caused a change in cell shape, in that the stromal fibroblasts acquired a rounded, epithelioid appearance. Finally, reporter studies showed that cotransfection of FOXO1A significantly increased PRL promoter activity but not TIMP3 promoter activity. Addition of H+dbcAMP resulted in a significant increase in PRL promoter activity and a significant decrease in TIMP3 promoter activity. In summary, this study demonstrates the versatile nature of FOXO1A in the regulation of a number of decidualization-specific genes.
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