Int. J. Dev. Biol. 40: 389 - 393 (1996)
© UPV/EHU Press

Epithelial cell polarity and embryo implantation in mammals.

M Thie, P Fuchs and H W Denker

Institute of Anatomy, University of Essen, Medical School, Germany.

ABSTRACT At embryo implantation we are confronted with the fact that uterine and trophoblast epithelium make contact via their apical cell membranes. This epithelium-epithelium adhesion leading to definitive attachment of the embryo to the uterine wall, however, is far from being trivial and has been called a cell biological paradox. It has been proposed that some of the molecular events involved in epithelium-to-mesenchyme transformation might play a role in the interaction between uterine cells and trophoblast. As a mechanism to achieve uterine epithelium adhesiveness for trophoblast it is postulated that uterine cells partially modulate their epithelial phenotype. Data from recent in vitro experiments give support to this hypothesis and suggest that loss of apical-basal cell polarity might prepare the apical cell pole of uterine epithelium for cell-to-cell contact with trophoblast in vivo.