Regulation of β-catenin mRNA and protein levels in human villous cytotrophoblasts undergoing aggregation and fusion in Vitro: Correlation with E-cadherin expression

S. Getsios, G. T C Chen, C. D. MacCalman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

The cellular mechanisms underlying the formation and organization of the human placenta remain poorly understood. Recent studies have demonstrated that E-cadherin, in association with the cytoplasmic protein known as β-catenin, plays an integral role in the differentiation of the trophectoderm in the murine and bovine embryo. Although E-cadherin expression is regulated during the aggregation and fusion of human villous cytotrophoblasts, the expression of β-catenin during the terminal differentiation of these primary cell cultures has not been determined. In this study, β-catenin mRNA concentrations and protein expression were examined in primary cultures of human villous cytotrophoblasts using northern and western blot analysis. β-catenin mRNA concentrations and protein expression were high in freshly isolated mononucleate cytotrophoblasts but decreased as these cells underwent aggregation and fusion to form syncytium. A similar pattern of expression was observed for the E-cadherin mRNA transcript and protein species present in these cell cultures. Immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that the β-catenin and E-cadherin protein species present in the mononucleate cytotrophoblasts were capable of forming intracellular complexes. In contrast, β-catenin and E-cadherin mRNA and protein expression in JEG-3 choriocarcinoma cells remained constant over time in culture. β-catenin and E-cadherin expression was subsequently immunolocalized to the aggregates of mononucleate cells present in both of these trophoblastic cell cultures and the villous cytotrophoblasts of the human first trimester and term placenta. Taken together, these observations indicate that the E-cadherin-β-catenin complex plays a central role in the terminal differentiation of human trophoblasts in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Reproduction and Fertility
Volume119
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Embryology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology

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