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  • Author: Francesco J DeMayo x
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Francesco J DeMayo and John P Lydon

Progesterone’s ability to maintain pregnancy in eutherian mammals highlighted this steroid as the ‘hormone of pregnancy’. It was the unique ‘pro-gestational’ bioactivity of progesterone that enabled eventual purification of this ovarian steroid to crystalline form by Willard Myron Allen in the early 1930s. While a functional connection between normal progesterone responses (’progestational proliferation’) of the uterus with the maintenance of pregnancy was quickly appreciated, an understanding of progesterone’s involvement in the early stages of pregnancy establishment was comparatively less well understood. With the aforementioned as historical backdrop, this review focuses on a selection of key advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which progesterone, through its nuclear receptor (the progesterone receptor), drives the development of endometrial receptivity, a transient uterine state that allows for embryo implantation and the establishment of pregnancy. Highlighted in this review are the significant contributions of advanced mouse engineering and genome-wide transcriptomic and cistromic analytics which reveal the pivotal molecular mediators and modifiers that are essential to progesterone-dependent endometrial receptivity and decidualization. With a clearer understanding of the molecular landscape that underpins uterine responsiveness to progesterone during the periimplantation period, we predict that common gynecologic morbidities due to abnormal progesterone responsiveness will be more effectively diagnosed and/or treated in the future.