A proteomics survey of human placental syncytiotrophoblast (ST) apical plasma membranes revealed peptides corresponding to flotillin-1 (FLOT1) and flotillin-2 (FLOT2). The flotillins belong to a class of lipid microdomain-associated integral membrane proteins that have been implicated in clathrin- and caveolar-independent endocytosis. In the present study, we characterized the expression of the flotillin proteins within the human placenta. FLOT1 and FLOT2 were coexpressed in placental lysates and BeWo human trophoblast cells. Immunofluorescence microscopy of first-trimester and term placentas revealed that both proteins were more prominent in villous endothelial cells and cytotrophoblasts (CTs) than the ST. Correspondingly, forskolin-induced fusion in BeWo cells resulted in a decrease in FLOT1 and FLOT2, suggesting that flotillin protein expression is reduced following trophoblast syncytialization. The flotillin proteins co-localized with a marker of fluid-phase pinocytosis, and knockdown of FLOT1 and/or FLOT2 expression resulted in decreased endocytosis of cholera toxin B subunit. We conclude that FLOT1 and FLOT2 are abundantly coexpressed in term villous placental CTs and endothelial cells, and in comparison, expression of these proteins in the ST is reduced. These findings suggest that flotillin-dependent endocytosis is unlikely to be a major pathway in the ST, but may be important in the CT and endothelium.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Medical Laboratory Technology
- Cell Biology