Developmental diethylstilbestrol exposure alters genetic pathways of uterine cytodifferentiation

Wei Wei Huang, Yan Yin, Qun Bi, Tung Chin Chiang, Neysa Garner, Jussi Vuoristo, John A. McLachlan, Liang Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The formation of a simple columnar epithelium in the uterus is essential for implantation. Perturbation of this developmental process by exogenous estrogen, such as diethylstilbestrol (DES), results in uterine metaplasia that contributes to infertility. The cellular and molecular mechanism underlying this transformation event is not well understood. Here we use a combination of global gene expression analysis and a knockout mouse model to delineate genetic pathways affected by DES. Global gene expression profiling experiment revealed that neonatal DES treatment alters uterine cell fate, particularly in the luminal epithelium by inducing abnormal differentiation, characterized by the induction of stratified epithelial markers including members of the small proline-rich protein family and epidermal keratins. We show that Msx2, a homeodomain transcription factor, functions downstream of DES and is required for the proper expression of several genes in the uterine epithelium including Wnt7a, PLAP, and K2.16. Finally, Msx2-/-uteri were found to exhibit abnormal water trafficking upon DES exposure, demonstrating the importance of Msx2 in tissue responsiveness to estrogen exposure. Together, these results indicate that developmental exposure to DES can perturb normal uterine development by affecting genetic pathways governing uterine differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-682
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005


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