PRL-like protein A (PLP-A) is a member of the PRL family expressed in trophoblast cells coincident with establishment of the chorioallantoic placenta. The purpose of this investigation was to identify targets for PLP-A. Using an alkaline phosphatase-tagging strategy, we show that PLP-A specifically interacts with a population of natural killer (NK) lymphocytes within the mesometrial compartment of decidua from pregnant and pseudopregnant rats. These observations are supported by the codistribution of PLP-A targets with cells expressing the rat NK cell surface marker, gp42, the absence of PLP-A binding in conceptuses from NK cell-deficient tgε26 mice, and the specific interaction of PLP-A with a rat NK cell line, RNK-16. We have further demonstrated that PLP-A effectively suppresses RNK-16 cell cytolytic activities. Our results provide evidence for a new paradigm of embryonic-maternal communication involving a PLP-A signaling pathway between trophoblast cells and uterine NK lymphocytes.
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