Establishment of pregnancy in mammals requires coordinated conceptus-maternal interactions involving numerous hormones, growth factors and cytokines acting via specific receptors in the uterus. Uterine secretions play an important role in establishing synchrony between development of the conceptus and uterine receptivity, as well as in conceptus remodeling, adhesion, implantation and placentation in domestic species. Studies of non-invasive implantation in domestic livestock provide valuable opportunities to investigate fundamental processes of the initial events of apposition, attachment and adhesive interactions that are shared among species. In pigs and sheep, it appears that integrins play a dominant role in these fundamental processes via interactions with extracellular matrix molecules and other ligands to transduce cellular signals in uterine epithelial cells and conceptus trophectoderm. This review considers several of the potential integrin-binding ligands involved in the complex implantation adhesion cascade in pigs and sheep along with in vitro evidence for the transduction of cytoplasmic signals that may be required to sustain fetal and maternal contributions to the formation of the epitheliochorial placenta.
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