We describe here the expression of the ryanodine receptor isoforms RyR2 and RyR3 in human non-pregnant and pregnant (non-labouring) myometrium, and in isolated cultured myometrial cells. The mRNA encoding the RyR3 isoform was found in both non-pregnant and pregnant myometrial tissue samples; however, the mRNA for RyR2 was found only in pregnant samples. It can be speculated that the appearance of this additional isoform in the pregnant myometrium may increase the ability of this tissue to contract at term. Control of expression of the RyR2 gene may therefore be another example of an up-regulated signalling system in pregnancy. Although the mRNA for RyR3 was expressed in cultured myometrial cells, the mRNA for RyR2 could not be detected. Thus cultured myometrial cells appear to be similar to the non-pregnant myometrium. The cytokine transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) has been reported to alter RyR mRNA expression in many cell types. After treatment with TGF-β, both RyR2 and RyR3 mRNAs could be detected in cultured myometrial cells. These observations support the idea that the expression of the RyR2 isoform is up-regulated both in pregnancy and in TGF-β-treated cultured myometrial cells. Using measurements of 45Ca2+ release, we have further demonstrated that cultured human myometrial cells show a significant augmentation of both the Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release (CICR) mechanism and ryanodine-induced Ca2+ release after treatment with TGF-β. Additionally, caffeine was able to induce Ca2+ release and sensitize the CICR mechanism to ryanodine. Thus we suggest that the appearance of RyR2 mRNA leads to the expression of this receptor/channel protein with identifiable pharmacological characteristics. These results are discussed in the context of the potential role of gene activation in the process of maturation of the human myometrium during pregnancy.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.