Early pregnancy factor in marsupials
Maternal recognition of pregnancy in marsupials occurs in more subtle ways than it does in eutherians. For instance, unlike in eutherians, the plasma progesterone profiles of pregnant and non-pregnant animals are similar during the luteal phase. It is typically during the brief luteal phase that both gestation and parturition occur in marsupials. Yet histological and physiological changes have been documented between gravid and non-gravid uteri in certain monovular marsupials and between pregnant and non-pregnant animals in polyovular marsupials. Early pregnancy factor (EPF), a 10.8-kDa serum protein known to be homologous to chaperonin 10, is associated with maternal immunosuppression, embryonic development and pregnancy in eutherian mammals. It has been reported in two Australian marsupials: the dasyurid Sminthopsis macroura and the phalangerid Trichosurus vulpecula. This paper documents its occurrence in the New World didelphid Monodelphis domestica. EPF is detectable by rosette inhibition assay in the peripheral circulation of pregnant but not of non-pregnant or pseudopregnant animals. Our work focuses on the embryo–maternal signalling role of EPF during pregnancy. Because progesterone-driven changes are similar in pregnant and non-pregnant marsupials, these animals are an excellent laboratory model in which to investigate the role of EPF in orchestrating the physiological changes necessary to sustain pregnancy.
Cruz, Y.P., H. Morton, A.C. Cavanagh, et al. 2006. "Early pregnancy factor in marsupials." Australian Journal of Zoology 54(3): 211-215.
Australian Journal of Zoology