Insulin signaling via progesterone-regulated insulin receptor substrate 2 is critical for human uterine decidualization

Alison M. Neff, Jie Yu, Robert N. Taylor, Indrani C. Bagchi, Milan K. Bagchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Decidualization, the process by which fibroblastic human endometrial stromal cells (HESC) differentiate into secretory decidual cells, is a critical event during the establishment of pregnancy. It is dependent on the steroid hormone progesterone acting through the nuclear progesterone receptor (PR). Previously, we identified insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2) as a factor that is directly regulated by PR during decidualization. IRS2 is an adaptor protein that functionally links receptor tyrosine kinases, such as insulin receptor (IR) and insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R), and their downstream effectors. IRS2 expression was induced in HESC during in vitro decidualization and siRNA-mediated downregulation of IRS2 transcripts resulted in attenuation of this process. Further use of siRNAs targeted to IR or IGF1R transcripts showed that downregulation of IR, but not IGF1R, led to impaired decidualization. Loss of IRS2 transcripts in HESC suppressed phosphorylation of both ERK1/2 and AKT, downstream effectors of insulin signaling, which mediate gene expression associated with decidualization and regulate glucose uptake. Indeed, downregulation of IRS2 resulted in reduced expression and membrane localization of the glucose transporters GLUT1 and GLUT4, resulting in lowered glucose uptake during stromal decidualization. Collectively, these data suggest that the PR-regulated expression of IRS2 is necessary for proper insulin signaling for controlling gene expression and glucose utilization, which critically support the decidualization process to facilitate pregnancy. This study provides new insight into the mechanisms by which steroid hormone signaling intersects with insulin signaling in the uterus during decidualization, which has important implications for pregnancy complications associated with insulin resistance and infertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEndocrinology (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Decidualization
  • Glucose transport
  • Insulin signaling
  • Metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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