Recent studies have demonstrated that the formation of an implantation chamber composed of a uterine crypt, an implantation-competent blastocyst, and uterine glands is a critical step in blastocyst implantation in mice. Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) activates signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) precursors via uterine LIF receptors (LIFRs), allowing successful blastocyst implantation. Our recent study revealed that the role of epithelial STAT3 is different from that of stromal STAT3. However, both are essential for blastocyst attachment, suggesting the different roles of epithelial and stromal LIFR in blastocyst implantation. However, how epithelial and stromal LIFR regulate the blastocyst implantation process remains unclear. To investigate the roles of LIFR in the uterine epithelium and stroma, we generated Lifr-floxed/lactoferrin (Ltf)-iCre (Lifr eKO) and Lifr-floxed/antimüllerian hormone receptor type 2 (Amhr2)-Cre (Lifr sKO) mice with deleted epithelial and stromal LIFR, respectively. Surprisingly, fertility and blastocyst implantation in the Lifr sKO mice were normal despite stromal STAT3 inactivation. In contrast, blastocyst attachment failed, and no implantation chambers were formed in the Lifr eKO mice with epithelial inactivation of STAT3. In addition, normal responsiveness to ovarian hormones was observed in the peri-implantation uteri of the Lifr eKO mice. These results indicate that the epithelial LIFR-STAT3 pathway initiates the formation of implantation chambers, leading to complete blastocyst attachment, and that stromal STAT3 regulates blastocyst attachment without stromal LIFR control. Thus, uterine epithelial LIFR is critical to implantation chamber formation and blastocyst attachment.
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