[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During human placentation, mononuclear cytotrophoblasts fuse to form multinucleated syncytia ensuring hormonal production and nutrient exchanges between the maternal and fetal circulation. Syncytial formation is essential for the maintenance of pregnancy and for fetal growth. The cAMP signaling pathway is the major route to trigger trophoblast fusion and its activation results in phosphorylation of specific intracellular target proteins, in transcription of fusogenic genes and assembly of macromolecular protein complexes constituting the fusogenic machinery at the plasma membrane. Specificity in cAMP signaling is ensured by generation of localized pools of cAMP controlled by cAMP phosphodiesterases (PDEs) and by discrete spatial and temporal activation of protein kinase A (PKA) in supramolecular signaling clusters inside the cell organized by A-kinase-anchoring proteins (AKAPs) and by organization of signal termination by protein phosphatases (PPs). Here we present original observations on the available components of the cAMP signaling pathway in the human placenta including PKA, PDE, and PP isoforms as well as AKAPs. We continue to discuss the current knowledge of the spatiotemporal regulation of cAMP signaling triggering trophoblast fusion.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Frontiers in Pharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The chorionic villus of the human placenta is the source of specific endocrine functions and nutrient exchanges. These activities are ensured by the syncytiotrophobast (ST), which bathes in maternal blood. The ST arises and regenerates throughout pregnancy by fusion of underlying cytotrophoblasts (CT). Any anomaly of ST formation or regeneration can affect pregnancy outcome and fetal growth. Because of its direct interaction with maternal blood, the ST is sensitive to drugs, pollutants and xenohormones. Ex vivo assays of perfused coty-ledon show that formaldehyde, a common pollutant present in furniture, paint and plastics, can accumulate in the human placenta and cross to the fetal compartment. By means of RT-qPCR, immunoblot and immunocytochemistry experiments, we demonstrate in vitro that formaldehyde exerts endocrine toxicity on human trophoblasts, including a decrease in the production of protein hormones of pregnancy. In addition, formaldehyde exposure triggered human trophoblast fusion by upregulating syncitin-1 receptor expression (ASC-type amino-acid transporter 2: ASCT2). Moreover, we show that formaldehyde-exposed tropho-blasts present an altered redox status associated with oxidative stress, and an increase in ASCT2 expression intended to compensate for this stress. Finally, we demonstrate that the adverse effects of formaldehyde on trophoblast differentiation and fusion are reversed by N-acetyl-L-cysteine (Nac), an antioxidant.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell fusion occurs as part of the differentiation of some cell types including myotubes in muscle and osteoclasts in remodeling bone. In the human placenta, mononuclear cytotrophoblasts in a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)-driven process fuse to form multinucleated syncytia that allow exchange of nutrients and gases between the maternal and fetal circulation. Experiments displacing protein kinase A (PKA) from A kinase anchoring proteins (AKAPs) or depleting specific AKAPs by siRNA-mediated knock down pointed to ezrin as a scaffold required for hCG-, cAMP and PKA-mediated regulation of the fusion process. By a variety of immunoprecipitation and immunolocalization experiments, we show that ezrin directs PKA to a molecular complex of connexin 43 (Cx43) and zona occludens-1 (ZO-1). A combination of knock down and reconstitution experiments with ezrin or Cx43 with or without the ability to bind its interaction partner or PKA demonstrated that ezrin-mediated coordination of PKA and Cx43 localization is necessary for discrete control of Cx43 phosphorylation and hCG-stimulated gap junction communication which triggers cell fusion in cytotrophoblasts.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The syncytiotrophoblast layer plays a major role throughout pregnancy, since it is the site of numerous placental functions, including ion and nutrient exchange and the synthesis of steroid and peptide hormones required for fetal growth and development. Inadequate formation and regeneration of this tissue contributes to several pathologies of pregnancy such as intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia, which may lead to iatrogenic preterm delivery in order to prevent fetal death and maternal complications. Syncytiotrophoblast formation can be reproduced in vitro using different models. For the last ten years we have routinely purified villous cytotrophoblastic cells (CT) from normal first, second and third trimester placentas and from gestational age-matched Trisomy 21 placentas. We cultured villous CT on plastic dishes to follow the molecular and biochemical aspects of their morphological and functional differentiation. Taking advantage of this unique collection of samples, we here discuss the concept that trophoblast fusion and functional differentiation may be two differentially regulated processes, which are linked but quite distinct. We highlight the major role of mesenchymal-trophoblast cross talk in regulating trophoblast cell fusion. We suggest that the oxidative status of the trophoblast may regulate glycosylation of proteins, including hCG, and thereby modulate major trophoblast cell functions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Placental development is markedly abnormal in trisomy 21 (T21) pregnancies. We hypothesized that abnormal paracrine cross talk between the fetal mesenchymal core and the trophoblast might be involved in the defect of syncytiotrophoblast formation and function. In a large series of primary cultured human cytotrophoblasts isolated from second-trimester control (n = 44) and T21 placentae (n = 71), abnormal trophoblast fusion and differentiation was observed in more than 90% of T21 cases. We then isolated and cultured villous mesenchymal cells from control (n = 10) and T21 placentae (n = 8) and confirmed their fetal origin. Conditioned medium of control mesenchymal cells overcame the abnormal trophoblast fusion of T21 cytotrophoblasts by activating the TGFβ signaling pathway, as shown by the phosphospecific protein microarray analysis and the use of TGFβ signaling pathway antagonists. Using protein arrays, we further analyzed the cytokines present in the conditioned medium from control and T21 mesenchymal cells. Activin-A was identified as strongly secreted by cells from both sources, but at a significantly (P < 0.01) lower level in the case of T21 mesenchymal cells. Recombinant activin-A stimulated T21 trophoblast fusion. Blocking activin-A antibody inhibited the fusion induced by conditioned medium and exogenous activin-A. Furthermore, follistatin, an activin-A binding protein largely secreted by T21 mesenchymal cells, inhibited the conditioned medium fusogenic activity. These results show that the defective trophoblast fusion and differentiation associated with T21 can be overcome in vitro and reveal the key role of the fetal mesenchymal core in human trophoblast differentiation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have recently shown, using a well-defined in vitro model, that connexin 43 (Cx43) is directly involved in human cytotrophoblastic cell fusion into a multinucleated syncytiotrophoblast. Cx43 appears to interact with partner proteins within a fusogenic complex, in a multi factorial and dynamic process. This fusogenic complex remains to be characterized and constituent proteins need to be identified. In order to identify proteins interacting with the entire Cx43 molecule (extracellular, transmembrane and intracellular domains), we produced and purified full-length recombinant Cx43 fused to glutathione S-transferase (GST-Cx43) and used it as "bait" in GST pull-down experiments. Cx43 cDNA was first cloned into the pDEST15 vector in order to construct a GST-fusion protein, using the Gateway system. The fusion protein GST-Cx43 was then expressed in Escherichia coli strain BL21-AI™ and purified by glutathione-affinity chromatography. The purified fusion protein exhibited the expected size of 70 kDa on SDS-PAGE, western blot and GST activity. A GST pull-down assay was used to show the capacity of the full-length recombinant protein to interact with known partners. Our results suggest that this method has the capacity to produce sufficient full-length recombinant protein for investigations aimed at identifying Cx43 partner proteins.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2011 · Protein Expression and Purification
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Trophoblastic cell fusion is one essential step of the human trophoblast differentiation leading to formation of the syncytiotrophoblast, site of the numerous placental functions. This process is multifactorial and finely regulated. Using the physiological model of primary culture of trophoblastic cells isolated from human placenta, we have identified different membrane proteins directly involved in trophoblastic cell fusion: connexin 43, ZO-1 and recently syncytins. These fusogenic membrane retroviral envelop glycoproteins: syncytin-1 (encoded by the HERV-W gene) and syncytin-2 (encoded by the FRD gene) and their receptors are major factors involved in human placental development. Disturbances of syncytiotrophoblast formation are observed in trisomy 21-affected placentas. Overexpression of the copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD-1), encoded by chromosome 21 as well as an abnormal hCG signaling are implicated in the defect of syncytiotrophoblast formation. This abnormal trophoblast fusion and differentiation in trisomy 21-affected placenta is reversible in vitro by different ways.
No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is the major pregnancy glycoprotein hormone whose maternal concentration and glycan structure change all along pregnancy. hCG is mainly secreted by the syncytiotrophoblast covering the chorionic villi, but little is known about the source of hyperglycosylated hCG (hCG-H) production.
The objective of the study was to analyze expression and secretion of hCG and hCG-H in vitro during human trophoblastic cell differentiation, in situ in first-trimester placentas, and in maternal sera during early pregnancy.
hCG and hCG-H were measured in cell supernatants from primary cultures of first-trimester placenta trophoblastic cells, which differentiate in vitro into syncytiotrophoblast or invasive extravillous cytotrophoblasts (evct). hCG-H immunodetection were performed on 9 wk gestation (WG) placental tissue sections. Total hCG and hCG-H were quantified by chemiluminometric assay in 539 maternal sera collected between 9 and 19 WG during normal pregnancies.
In vitro, hCG secretion reached 37 ng/ml per μg DNA during syncytiotrophoblast formation but contained few hCG-H (2-5% of total hCG). In contrast, hCG secretion (20 ng/ml per μg DNA) in evct supernatants contained 10-20% hCG-H. In situ, hCG-H immunostaining was strong in invasive and endovascular evct, weaker in mononucleated villous cytotrophoblasts, but negative in the syncytiotrophoblast. In maternal sera, hCG-H concentrations continuously decreased during pregnancy from 406 ± 222 ng/ml at 9 WG to 8 ± 6 ng/ml at 19 WG, whereas total hCG picked up at 11 WG and then decreased.
This study suggests that the high levels of hCG-H observed in first-trimester maternal sera are mainly from invasive evct origin, reflecting the early trophoblast invasion process.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Trophoblastic cell-cell fusion is an essential event required during human placental development. Several membrane proteins have been described to be directly involved in this process, including connexin 43 (Cx43), syncytin 1 (Herv-W env), and syncytin 2 (Herv-FRD env glycoprotein). Recently, zona occludens (ZO) proteins (peripheral membrane proteins associated with tight junctions, adherens junctions, and gap junctions) were shown to be involved in mouse placental development. Moreover, zona occludens 1 (ZO-1) was localized mainly at the intercellular boundaries between human trophoblastic cells. Therefore the role of ZO-1 in the dynamic process of human trophoblastic cell-cell fusion was investigated using primary trophoblastic cells in culture. In vitro as in situ, ZO-1 was localized mainly at the intercellular boundaries between trophoblastic cells where its expression substantially decreased during differentiation and during fusion. At the same time, Cx43 was localized at the interface of trophoblastic cells and its expression increased during differentiation. To determine a functional role for ZO-1 during trophoblast differentiation, small interfering RNA (siRNA) was used to knock down ZO-1 expression. Cytotrophoblasts treated with ZO-1 siRNA fused poorly, but interestingly, decreased Cx43 expression without altering the functionality of trophoblastic cell-cell communication as measured by relative permeability time constant determined using gap-FRAP experiments. Because kinetics of Cx43 and ZO-1 proteins show a mirror image, a potential association of these two proteins was investigated. By using coimmunoprecipitation experiments, a physical interaction between ZO-1 and Cx43 was demonstrated. These results demonstrate that a decrease in ZO-1 expression reduces human trophoblast cell-cell fusion and differentiation.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2010 · AJP Cell Physiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are globally silent in somatic cells. However, some HERVs display high transcription in physiological conditions. In particular, ERVWE1, ERVFRDE1 and ERV3, three proviruses of distinct families, are highly transcribed in placenta and produce envelope proteins associated with placenta development. As silencing of repeated elements is thought to occur mainly by DNA methylation, we compared the methylation of ERVWE1 and related HERVs to appreciate whether HERV methylation relies upon the family, the integration site, the tissue, the long terminal repeat (LTR) function or the associated gene function. CpG methylation of HERV-W LTRs in placenta-associated tissues was heterogeneous but a joint epigenetic control was found for ERVWE1 5'LTR and its juxtaposed enhancer, a mammalian apparent LTR retrotransposon. Additionally, ERVWE1, ERVFRDE1 and ERV3 5'LTRs were all essentially hypomethylated in cytotrophoblasts during pregnancy, but showed distinct and stage-dependent methylation profiles. In non-cytotrophoblastic cells, they also exhibited different methylation profiles, compatible with their respective transcriptional activities. Comparative analyses of transcriptional activity and LTR methylation in cell lines further sustained a role for methylation in the control of functional LTRs. These results suggest that HERV methylation might not be family related but copy-specific, and related to the LTR function and the tissue. In particular, ERVWE1 and ERV3 could be developmentally epigenetically regulated HERVs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human trophoblast expresses two fusogenic retroviral envelope proteins, the widely studied syncytin 1, encoded by HERV-W and the recently characterized syncytin 2 encoded by HERV-FRD. Here we studied syncytin 2 in normal and Trisomy 21-affected placenta associated with abnormal trophoblast differentiation. Syncytin 2 immunolocalization was restricted throughout normal pregnancy to some villous cytotrophoblastic cells (CT). During the second trimester of pregnancy, syncytin 2 was immunolocalized in some cuboidal CT in T21 placentas, whereas in normal placentas it was observed in flat CT, extending into their cytoplasmic processes. In vitro, CT isolated from normal placenta fuse and differentiate into syncytiotrophoblast. At the same time, syncytin 2 transcript levels decreased significantly with syncytiotrophoblast formation. In contrast, CT isolated from T21-affected placentas fused and differentiated poorly and no variation in syncytin 2 transcript levels was observed. Syncytin 2 expression illustrates the abnormal trophoblast differentiation observed in placenta of fetal T21-affected pregnancies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Placental development is markedly abnormal in women bearing a fetus with trisomy 21, with defective syncytiotrophoblast (ST) formation and function. The ST occurs from cytotrophoblast (CT) fusion and plays an essential role by secreting human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is essential to placental development. In trisomy of chromosome 21 (T21) pregnancies, CTs do not fuse and differentiate properly into STs, leading to the secretion of an abnormal and weakly bioactive hCG. In this study we report for the first time, a marked decrease in the number of mature hCG receptor (LH/CG-R) molecules expressed at the surface of T21-affected CTs. The LH/CG-R seems to be functional based on sequencing that revealed no mutations or deletions and binding of recombinant hCG as well as endogenous hCG. We hypothesize that weakly bioactive hCG and lower LH/CG-R expression may be involved in the defect of ST formation. Interestingly, the defective ST formation is mimicked in normal CT cultures by using LH/CG-R small interfering RNA, which result in a lower hCG secretion. Furthermore, treatment of T21-affected CTs with recombinant hCG overcomes in vitro the T21 phenotype, allowing CTs to fuse and form a large ST. These results illustrate for the first time in trisomy 21 pathology, how abnormal endogenous hCG signaling impairs human placental development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Due to the key role of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) in placental development, the aim of this study was to characterize the human trophoblastic luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin receptor (LH/CG-R) and to investigate its expression using the in vitro model of human cytotrophoblast differentiation into syncytiotrophoblast. We confirmed by in situ immunochemistry and in cultured cells, that LH/CG-R is expressed in both villous cytotrophoblasts and syncytiotrophoblasts. However, LH/CG-R expression decreased during trophoblast fusion and differentiation, while the expression of hCG and hPL (specific markers of syncytiotrophoblast formation) increased. A decrease in LH/CG-R mRNA during trophoblast differentiation was observed by means of semi-quantitative RT-PCR with two sets of primers. A corresponding decrease ( approximately 60%) in LH/CG-R protein content was shown by Western-blot and immunoprecipitation experiments. The amount of the mature form of LH/CG-R, detected as a 90-kDa band specifically binding (125)I-hCG, was lower in syncytiotrophoblasts than in cytotrophoblasts. This was confirmed by Scatchard analysis of binding data on cultured cells. Maximum binding at the cell surface decreased from 3,511 to about 929 molecules/seeded cells with a kDa of 0.4-0.5 nM. Moreover, on stimulation by recombinant hCG, the syncytiotrophoblast produced less cyclic AMP than cytotrophoblasts, indicating that LH/CG-R expression is regulated during human villous trophoblast differentiation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is increased in maternal serum at 14–18 weeks of trisomy 21 (T21)-affected pregnancy, despite low placental hCG synthesis. We sought an explanation for this paradox. We first observed that in T21-affected pregnancies, maternal serum hCG levels peaked at around 10 weeks and then followed the same pattern throughout pregnancy as in controls, albeit at a higher (2.2-fold) level. We isolated cytotrophoblasts from 29 T21-affected placentas (12–25 weeks) and 13 gestational age-matched control placentas and cultured them for 3 days. In this large serie we confirmed that in the culture medium of trophoblasts isolated from T21 placentas, hCG secretion was significantly lower (P
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although the extravillous trophoblastic invasion has a critical role in human placental development, nothing is known about HERV-W expression in the extravillous phenotype. The aim of the present study was to localize in first trimester placenta the expression of HERV-W Env glycoprotein and its receptor all along the differentiation pathway of the extravillous phenotype. In addition using an in vitro model of extravillous cytotrophoblastic cell isolation and invasion we investigated the presence of HERV-W transcripts and envelope glycoprotein in cultured extravillous trophoblastic cells. Using monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, the glycoprotein was immunolocalized in all the cell types of the extravillous phenotype lineage: cytotrophoblastic cells of the column, interstitial extravillous trophoblastic cells, multinucleated giant cells and endovascular trophoblast. Furthermore, using a polyclonal antibody, the D mammalian virus receptor was also localized in the various extravillous trophoblastic phenotypes. In addition, the presence of HERV-W transcripts and protein was demonstrated in cultured extravillous trophoblastic cells. HERV-W Env glycoprotein expressed in villous and extravillous trophoblast can be considered as a specific marker of the human trophoblast.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Superoxide dismutases' (SODs) expression is altered in several diseases including Alzheimer, atherosclerosis, cancer and psoriasis. Previously, we reported a marked increase in Mn-SOD and Cu,Zn-SOD functional activity in human dermal psoriatic fibroblasts. As retinoic acid (RA) has been used in the treatment of psoriasis and a mechanism for its beneficial effects is not understood, we investigated the effects of RA on SOD mRNA and protein expression levels in human normal and psoriatic fibroblasts. Prior to RA exposure, Cu,Zn-SOD protein and mRNA levels were similar in normal compared to psoriatic fibroblasts while Mn-SOD protein and mRNA levels were increased in psoriatic cells. However, in contrast to normal fibroblasts, exposure of psoriatic fibroblasts to 1 microM RA down-regulated Mn-SOD mRNA, and also decreased Mn-SOD activity by approximately 80% with no change in Mn-SOD protein levels. In contrast, Cu,Zn-SOD protein and enzymatic activity were modestly reduced by RA treatment in both normal and psoriatic fibroblasts. Furthermore, RA treatment of psoriatic fibroblasts also caused a decrease in Cu,Zn-SOD steady-state mRNA levels. These results indicate that RA can serve as a regulatory agent to down-regulate the steady-state levels of both Mn-SOD and Cu,Zn-SOD in psoriatic cells. These findings offer a new model for the antiinflammatory activity of RA when used in the treatment of psoriasis.
No preview · Article · Mar 2005 · Journal of Autoimmunity