Abstract

Epithelial membrane protein 2 (EMP2) is a tetraspan membrane protein that has been revealed in cancer and placental models to mediate a number of vascular responses. Recently, Emp2 modulation has been shown to have an immunologic effect on uterine NK cell recruitment in the mouse placenta. Given the importance of immune cell populations on both placental vascularization and maternal immune tolerance of the developing fetus, we wanted to better characterize the immunologic effects of Emp2 at the placental-fetal interface. We performed flow cytometry of WT and Emp2 KO C57Bl/6 mouse uterine horns at GD12.5 to characterize immune cell populations localized to the various components of the maternal-fetal interface. We found that Emp2 KO decidua and placenta showed an elevated overall percentage of CD45+ cells compared to WT. Characterization of CD45+ cells in the decidua of Emp2 KO dams revealed an increase in NK cells, whereas in the placenta, Emp2 KO dams showed an increased percentage of M1 macrophages (with an increased ratio of M1/M2 macrophages). Given the differences detected in uNK cell populations in the decidua, we further characterized the interaction between Emp2 genetic KO and NK cell deletion via anti-asialo GM1 antibody injections. While the double knock-out of Emp2 and NK cells did not alter individual pup birthweight, it significantly reduced total litter weight and size by ∼50 %. In conclusion, Emp2 appears to regulate uNK and macrophage cell populations in pregnancy.

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