Implantation

Embryos engulf mom to latch on

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Science  22 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6237, pp. 877
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6237.877-a

To implant, an embryo (black) must engulf uterine epithelial cells (arrows)

PHOTO: Y. LI ET AL. CELL REPORTS 11, 3 (21 APRIL 2015) © 2015 ELSEVIER INC.

In mammals, to ensure a viable pregnancy, a developing embryo must implant into the wall of the uterus. Previous studies suggested that this depended on maternal uterine epithelial cells dying by apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death. However, Li et al. now report in mice that cells from the developing embryo actively engulf live cells of the uterine epithelial barrier, in a process called entosis. This then allows the developing embryo to anchor itself to the uterine stromal bed. Although scientists had previously reported a role for entosis in cancer, these results suggest that this process may be more widespread.

Cell Rep. 11, 358 (2015).

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