Differentiation of placental trophoblast giant cells requires downregulation of p53 and Rb

V. Soloveva, D. I.H. Linzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Trophoblast giant cells in the rodent placenta form the outermost layer of the extraembryonic compartment, establish direct contact with maternal cells, and produce a number of pregnancy-specific cytokine hormones. Giant cells differentiate from proliferative trophoblasts as they exit the cell cycle and enter a genome-amplifying endocycle, a process we show involves decreased expression of the G1 checkpoint proteins p53 and Rb. Although p53 mRNA levels are unchanged in proliferative compared to differentiated trophoblasts, p53 protein levels are markedly reduced in giant cells. Forced expression of wild type p53 in trophoblasts inhibits differentiation, and expression of a dominant negative p53 peptide stimulates differentiation. Consistent with the loss of p53 protein, differentiated trophoblasts become resistant to apoptosis-inducing agents. Decreased expression of Rb is also detected during differentiation, and overexpression of Rb in trophoblasts inhibits giant cell differentiation. Although an increase in E2F activity would be expected with the loss of Rb, what is observed is an overall decrease in E2F DNA-binding complexes, a shift to new complexes, and a decrease in E2F-dependent gene expression in differentiating trophoblasts. Overall, these results indicate that the combination of a decrease in p53 and Rb represents a functionally important part of the transition of trophoblasts from a proliferative cell cycle to an endocycle in the giant cell differentiation programme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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