How uterine contractions develop and are controlled during pregnancy and labour is poorly known, but understanding uterine muscle growth during pregnancy and its contributions to uterine contractions at labour are critical first steps. Abnormal uterine contractions can lead to poor health and/or survival of the newborn in humans and domestic animals. In preparation for labour, uterine muscle cells dramatically extend and enlarge with extensive actin filament growth and remodeling at cell-external environment anchors called focal adhesions. In this image of uterine muscle cells, fluorescence microscopy illuminates the extending growth of actin (red) and the role of zyxin (green) in actin maintenance (yellow) at focal adhesions. Such research could equip clinicians with knowledge to understand and predict irregular labour processes.
Funder: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)