A role for Notch signaling in trophoblast endovascular invasion and in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia

Center for Reproductive Sciences, University of California-San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
Development (Impact Factor: 6.27). 07/2011; 138(14):2987-98. DOI: 10.1242/dev.066589
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Placental trophoblasts (TBs) invade and remodel uterine vessels with an arterial bias. This process, which involves vascular mimicry, re-routes maternal blood to the placenta, but fails in pre-eclampsia. We investigated Notch family members in both contexts, as they play important roles in arterial differentiation/function. Immunoanalyses of tissue sections showed step-wise modulation of Notch receptors/ligands during human TB invasion. Inhibition of Notch signaling reduced invasion of cultured human TBs and expression of the arterial marker EFNB2. In mouse placentas, Notch activity was highest in endovascular TBs. Conditional deletion of Notch2, the only receptor upregulated during mouse TB invasion, reduced arterial invasion, the size of maternal blood canals by 30-40% and placental perfusion by 23%. By E11.5, there was litter-wide lethality in proportion to the number of mutant offspring. In pre-eclampsia, expression of the Notch ligand JAG1 was absent in perivascular and endovascular TBs. We conclude that Notch signaling is crucial for TB vascular invasion.

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