Defects are observed when the TGFBR-1 gene is either knocked-out or when a constitutively active TGFBR-1 mutant (that is active in the presence or absence of ligand) is knocked-in.
In mouse TGFBR-1 knock-out models, the female mice were sterile. They developed oviductal diverticula and defective uterine smooth muscle, meaning that uterine smooth muscle layers were poorly formed. Oviductal diverticula are small, bulging pouches located on the oviduct, which is the tube that transports the ovum from the ovary to the uterus. This deformity of the oviduct occurred bilaterally and resulted in impaired embryo development and impaired transit of the embryos to the uterus. Ovulation and fertilization still occurred in the knock-outs, however remnants of embryos were found in these oviductal diverticula.
In mouse TGFBR-1 knock-in models where a constitutively active TGFBR-1 gene is conditionally induced, the over-activation of the TGFBR-1 receptors lead to infertility, a reduction in the number of uterine glands, and hypermuscled uteri (an increased amount of smooth muscle in the uteri).
These experiments show that the TGFB-1 receptor plays a critical role in the function of the female reproductive tract. They also show that genetic mutations in the TGFBR-1 gene may lead to fertility issues in women.
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