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Origination of novel gene regulatory networks in the evolution of mammalian pregnancy

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "EVOLPREG" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: Turku
postcode: 20014

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Finland [FI]
 Project website
 Total cost 191˙325 €
 EC max contribution 191˙325 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2014
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-RI
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-04-12   to  2018-07-02


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    TURUN YLIOPISTO FI (Turku) coordinator 191˙325.00


 Project objective

One of the deepest unanswered biological questions is how new phenotypes arise in evolution. To address this question, I propose to investigate a major mammalian innovation: pregnancy. Phenotypic novelties of pregnancy include efficient placental delivery of nutrients and internal fetal development. When being established, these novelties were associated with major gene regulatory changes in the endometrium of the uterus. My preliminary studies in human endometrial cells suggest that aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) regulates genes that are essential for placental development and maternal immunotolerance of the fetus. It is also known that AHR evolved endometrium-specific expression early in the mammalian ancestor and acquired the ability to repress estrogen signalling necessary for implantation only in placental mammals. Here, I propose to study the origination of novel endometrial gene regulatory networks of AHR. I will establish the full endometrial target gene sets of AHR in major placental lineages and a non-placental out-group (opossum). Potential AHR targets will be validated in endometrial cells using knockdowns and reporter assays. The results of this study will provide a paradigm for understanding how transcription factors integrate into a new cell-signalling network. The findings will also expand our knowledge of the mechanisms of AHR-mediated toxicity of dioxins in mammalian reproduction and may reveal new therapeutic targets for the treatment of female reproductive disorders such as preeclampsia and endometriosis.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Rytkönen KT, Erkenbrack EM, Poutanen M, Elo LL, Pavlicev M and Wagner GP
Decidualization of human endometrial stromal fibroblasts is a multi-phasic process involving distinct transcriptional programs.
published pages: , ISSN: 1933-7191, DOI:
Reproductive Sciences accepted 2019-06-18

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