Figure S1. Changes in European polecat uterine secretory proteins with time after mating. This figure shows the changes in uterine secreted protein profiles from all the animals used in the study - Figures 1 and 2 of the main text show only a selection of these. from Pulse of inflammatory proteins in the pregnant uterus of European polecats (Mustela putorius) leading to the time of implantation

Uterine secretory proteins protect the uterus and conceptuses against infection, facilitate implantation, control cellular damage resulting from implantation, and supply pre-implantation embryos with nutrients. Unlike in humans, the early conceptus of the European polecat (Mustela putorius) grows and develops free in the uterus until implanting at about 12 days after mating. We found that the proteins appearing in polecat uteri changed dramatically with time leading to implantation. Several of these proteins have also been found in pregnant uteri of other eutherian mammals. However, we found a combination of two increasingly abundant proteins that have not been recorded before in pre-placentation uteri. First, the broad-spectrum proteinase inhibitor α2-macroglobulin rose to dominate the protein profile by the time of implantation. Its functions may be to limit damage caused by the release of proteinases during implantation or infection, and to control other processes around sites of implantation. Secondly, lipocalin-1 (also known as tear lipocalin) also increased substantially in concentration. This protein has not previously been recorded as a uterine secretion in pregnancy in any species. If polecat lipocalin-1 has similar biological properties to that of humans, then it may have a combined function in antimicrobial protection and transporting or scavenging lipids. The changes in the uterine secretory protein repertoire of European polecats is therefore unusual, and may be representative of pre-placentation supportive uterine secretions in mustelids (otters, weasels, badgers, mink, wolverines) in general.