Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Galactose-binding lectins as markers of pregnancy-related glycoproteins


Protein extracts from pregnant mouse endometria were compared with those obtained from non-pregnant and pseudopregnant mice to detect early pregnancy-specific galactose-rich glycoproteins. Gradient gel electrophoresis combined with lectin overlay and lectin histochemistry were used to identify Ricinus communis I (RCA-I), R. communis II (RCA-II) and Cytisus scoparius (CSA) lectin binding glycoproteins. Using this approach, galactose-rich glycoproteins were identified that were maximally expressed in the estrus phase of non-pregnant endometria and also those that had peak expression in pregnancy. Lectin histochemistry revealed pregnancy related changes in three portions of mouse endometrium: endometrial glands, luminal epithelium and its basement membrane. Two major glycoproteins (RCA-I reactive 64 kDa and RCA-II reactive 35 kDa) were specifically expressed in peri-implantation endometrium on days 3 and 4 of pregnancy. The appearance of these glycoproteins during the period of the implantation window in mouse suggests that they could serve as markers of uterine receptivity to the implanting blastocyst.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Allen E (1922) The estrous cycle in the mouse. Am J Anat 30:297–371

  2. Anderson TL, Olson GE, Hoffman LH (1986) Stage-specific alterations in the apical membrane glycoproteins of endometrial epithelial cells related to implantation in rabbits. Biol Reprod 34:701–720

  3. Bradford MM (1976) A rapid and sensitive method for the quantitation of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding. Anal Biochem 72:248–254

  4. Chaminadas G, Remy-Martin JP, Alkhalaf M, Propper AY, Adessi G (1989) Effect of progesterone on protein synthesis and secretion by cultured epithelial cells from guinea-pig endometrium. Cell Tissue Res 257:129–136

  5. Chavez DJ, Anderson TL (1985) The glycocalyx of the mouse uterine luminal epithelium during oestrus, early pregnancy, the peri-implantation period, and delayed implantation. I. The aquisition of Ricinus communis I binding sites during pregnancy. Biol Reprod 32:1135–1142

  6. Chavez DJ, Enders AC (1981) Temporal changes in lectin binding of periimplantation mouse blastocysts. Dev Biol 87:267–276

  7. Damjanov I (1987) Lectin cytochemistry and histochemistry. Lab Invest 57:5–20

  8. DeLeon DD, Zelinski-Wooten HB, Barkley MS (1990) Hormonal basis of variation on oestrous cyclicity in selected strains of mice. J Reprod Fertil 89:117–126

  9. Hakomori S (1985) Glycosphingolipids as differentiation and tumor markers and as regulators of cell proliferation. In: Wahren B (ed) Molecular biology of tumor cells. Raven Press, New York, pp 139–156

  10. Horvat B (1991) Cyclic changes in the expression of endometrial proteins of the mouse during the normal estrous cycle. In Vivo 5:345–348

  11. Horvat B, Vrcic H, Damjanov I (1992) Changes related to the oestrous cycle in the expression of endometrial and oviductal proteins of mice. J Reprod Fertil 95:191–199

  12. Jansen RPS, Bajpai VK (1983) Periovulatory glycoprotein secretion in the macaque fallopian tube. Am J Obstet Gynecol 147:598–608

  13. Jie Z, Fey SJ, Hager H, Hollsberg P, Ebbesen P, Larsen PM (1990) Markers for human placental trophoblasts in two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol 26:937–943

  14. Kapur RP, Johnson LV (1985) An oviductal fluid glycoprotein associated with ovulated mouse ova and early embryos. Dev Biol 112:89–93

  15. Laemmli UK (1970) Cleavage of structural proteins during the assembly of bacteriophage T4. Nature 227:680–685

  16. Leavitt WW, Macdonald RG, Shwaery GT (1985) Characterization of deciduoma marker proteins in hamster uterus: detection in decidual cell cultures. Biol Reprod 32:631–643

  17. Lampelo SA, Ricketts AP, Bullock DW (1985) Purification of rabbit endometrial plasma membranes from receptive and non-receptive uteri. J Reprod Fertil 75:475–484

  18. Lee M-C, Wu T-C, Wan Y-J, Damjanov I (1983) Pregnancy-related changes in the mouse oviduct and uterus revealed by differential binding of fluoresceinated lectins. Histochemistry 79:365–375

  19. Lejeune B, Lamy F, Lecocq R, Reschacht J, Leroy F (1985) Patterns of protein synthesis in endometrial tissues from ovariectomized rats treated with estradiol and progesterone. J Reprod Fertil 73:223–228

  20. McCormack JT, Greenwald GS (1974) Progesterone and oestradiol-17 concentrations in the peripheral plasma during pregnancy in the mouse. J Endocrinol 62:101–107

  21. Nicolson GL (1984) Cell surface molecules and tumor metastasis. Regulation of metastatic phenotypic diversity. Exp Cell Res 150:3–22

  22. Nieder GL, Macon GR (1987) Uterine and oviductal protein secretion during early pregnancy in the mouse. J Reprod Fertil 81:287–294

  23. Quarmby VE, Korach KS (1984) Differential regulation of protein synthesis by estradiol in uterine component tissues. Endocrinology 115:687–697

  24. Ricketts AP, Scott DW, Bullock DW (1984) Radioiodinated surface proteins of separated cell types from rabbit endometrium in relation to the time of implantation. Cell Tissue Res 236:421–429

  25. Roberts RM, Bazer FW (1988) The functions of uterine secretions. J Reprod Fertil 82:875–892

  26. Sharon N, Lis H (1989) Lectins as cell recognition molecules. Science 246:227–234

  27. Shur BD (1987) Galactosyltransferase as a recognition molecule during fertilization and development. In: Schatten H, Schatten G (eds) The molecular biology of fertilization. Academic Press, New York

  28. Sutherland AE, Calarco PG, Damsky CH (1988) Expression and function of cell surface extracellular matrix receptors in mouse blastocyst attachment and outgrowth. J Cell Biol 106:1331–1348

  29. Vrcic H, Horvat B, Damjanov I (1991) Lectin histochemistry of mouse vagina during the estrous cycle. J Histochem Cytochem 39:1685–1692

  30. Vrcic H, Horvat B, Damjanov I (1992) Oviductal glycoproteins in sexually immature mice. In Vivo 6:89–92

  31. Wassarman PM (1987) The biology and chemistry of fertilization. Science 235:553–560

  32. Wu T-C, Wan W-J, Damjanov I (1983) Distribution of Bandeiraea simplicifolia lectin binding sites in the genital organs of female and male mice. Histochemistry 77:233–241

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Horvat, B. Galactose-binding lectins as markers of pregnancy-related glycoproteins. Histochemistry 99, 95–101 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00268027

Download citation


  • Lectin Binding
  • Pregnant Mouse
  • Luminal Epithelium
  • Ricinus Communis
  • Endometrial Gland