Placentation defects are highly prevalent in embryonic lethal mouse mutants.
ABSTRACT: Large-scale phenotyping efforts have demonstrated that approximately 25-30% of mouse gene knockouts cause intrauterine lethality. Analysis of these mutants has largely focused on the embryo and not the placenta, despite the crucial role of this extraembryonic organ for developmental progression. Here we screened 103 embryonic lethal and sub-viable mouse knockout lines from the Deciphering the Mechanisms of Developmental Disorders program for placental phenotypes. We found that 68% of knockout lines that are lethal at or after mid-gestation exhibited placental dysmorphologies. Early lethality (embryonic days 9.5-14.5) is almost always associated with severe placental malformations. Placental defects correlate strongly with abnormal brain, heart and vascular development. Analysis of mutant trophoblast stem cells and conditional knockouts suggests that a considerable number of factors that cause embryonic lethality when ablated have primary gene function in trophoblast cells. Our data highlight the hugely under-appreciated importance of placental defects in contributing to abnormal embryo development and suggest key molecular nodes that govern placenta formation.
Project description:The Coxsackie virus and adenovirus receptor (CXADR) is an adhesion molecule known for its role in virus-cell interactions, epithelial integrity, and organogenesis. Loss of Cxadr causes numerous embryonic defects in mice, notably abnormal development of the cardiovascular system, and embryonic lethality. While CXADR expression has been reported in the placenta, the precise cellular localization and function within this tissue are unknown. Since impairments in placental development and function can cause secondary cardiovascular abnormalities, a phenomenon referred to as the placenta-heart axis, it is possible placental phenotypes in Cxadr mutant embryos may underlie the reported cardiovascular defects and embryonic lethality. In the current study, we determine the cellular localization of placental Cxadr expression and whether there are placental abnormalities in the absence of Cxadr. In the placenta, CXADR is expressed specifically by trophoblast labyrinth progenitors as well as cells of the visceral yolk sac (YS). In the absence of Cxadr, we observed altered expression of angiogenic factors coupled with poor expansion of trophoblast and fetal endothelial cell subpopulations, plus diminished placental transport. Unexpectedly, preserving endogenous trophoblast Cxadr expression revealed the placental defects to be secondary to primary embryonic and/or YS phenotypes. Moreover, further tissue-restricted deletions of Cxadr suggest that the secondary placental defects are likely influenced by embryonic lineages such as the fetal endothelium or those within the extraembryonic YS vascular plexus.
Project description:The placenta forms the interface between the maternal and fetal circulation and is critical for the establishment of a healthy pregnancy. Specialized trophoblast cells derived from the embryonic trophectoderm play a pivotal role in the establishment of the placenta. Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is one of the predominant cytokines present in the placenta during early pregnancy. LIF has been shown to regulate trophoblast adhesion and invasion in vitro, however its precise role in vivo is unknown. We hypothesized that LIF would be required for normal placental development in mice. LIF and LIFR? were immunolocalized to placental trophoblasts and fetal vessels in mouse implantation sites during mid-gestation. Temporally blocking LIF action during specific periods of placental development via intraperitoneal administration of our specific LIFR? antagonist, PEGLA, resulted in abnormal placental trophoblast and vascular morphology and reduced activated STAT3 but not ERK. Numerous genes regulating angiogenesis and oxidative stress were altered in the placenta in response to LIF inhibition. Pregnancy viability was also significantly compromised in PEGLA treated mice. Our data suggest that LIF plays an important role in placentation in vivo and the maintenance of healthy pregnancy.
Project description:<h4>Background:</h4> Our environment is replete with chemicals that can affect embryonic and extraembryonic development. Dioxins, such as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo- <h4>Objectives:</h4> The purpose of this investigation was to examine the effects of TCDD exposure on pregnancy and placentation and to evaluate roles for AHR and cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) in TCDD action. <h4>Methods:</h4> Actions of TCDD were examined in wild-type and genome-edited rat models. Placenta phenotyping was assessed using morphological, biochemical, and molecular analyses. <h4>Results:</h4> TCDD exposures were shown to result in placental adaptations and at higher doses, pregnancy termination. Deep intrauterine endovascular trophoblast cell invasion was a prominent placentation site adaptation to TCDD. TCDD-mediated placental adaptations were dependent upon maternal AHR signaling but not upon placental or fetal AHR signaling nor the presence of a prominent AHR target, CYP1A1. At the placentation site, TCDD activated AHR signaling within endothelial cells but not trophoblast cells. Immune and trophoblast cell behaviors at the uterine–placental interface were guided by the actions of TCDD on endothelial cells. <h4>Discussion:</h4> We identified an AHR regulatory pathway in rats activated by dioxin affecting uterine and trophoblast cell dynamics and the formation of the hemochorial placenta. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP9256
Project description:The placenta is the extraembryonic organ that supports the fetus during intrauterine life. Although placental dysfunction results in major disorders of pregnancy with immediate and lifelong consequences for the mother and child, our knowledge of the human placenta is limited owing to a lack of functional experimental models1. After implantation, the trophectoderm of the blastocyst rapidly proliferates and generates the trophoblast, the unique cell type of the placenta. In vivo, proliferative villous cytotrophoblast cells differentiate into two main sub-populations: syncytiotrophoblast, the multinucleated epithelium of the villi responsible for nutrient exchange and hormone production, and extravillous trophoblast cells, which anchor the placenta to the maternal decidua and transform the maternal spiral arteries2. Here we describe the generation of long-term, genetically stable organoid cultures of trophoblast that can differentiate into both syncytiotrophoblast and extravillous trophoblast. We used human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing to confirm that the organoids were derived from the fetus, and verified their identities against four trophoblast-specific criteria3. The cultures organize into villous-like structures, and we detected the secretion of placental-specific peptides and hormones, including human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) and pregnancy-specific glycoprotein (PSG) by mass spectrometry. The organoids also differentiate into HLA-G+ extravillous trophoblast cells, which vigorously invade in three-dimensional cultures. Analysis of the methylome reveals that the organoids closely resemble normal first trimester placentas. This organoid model will be transformative for studying human placental development and for investigating trophoblast interactions with the local and systemic maternal environment.
Project description:Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like growth factor (HBEGF) is expressed in the embryo and uterus at the implantation site, stimulating trophoblast invasive activity essential for placentation. The effect of extraembryonic HBEGF deficiency on placental development was investigated by breeding mice heterozygous for the Hbegf null mutation. On gestation day 13.5, the average placental weights of the wild-type (Hbegf+/+) and heterozygous (Hbegf+/-) mice were approximately 76 and 77 mg, respectively, as opposed to reduced average placental weights of approximately 61 mg in homozygous null (Hbgef-/-) females. In contrast, fetal weights were not significantly affected by genotype. HBEGF immunostaining in placental sections was Hbegf gene dosage-dependent, while expression of other EGF family members was comparable in Hbegf+/+ and Hbegf-/- placentas. Histological analysis revealed no apparent differences in trophoblast giant cells, but the spongiotrophoblast region was reduced compared to labyrinth (P < 0.05) in Hbegf null placentas. While no differences in cell apoptosis were noted, proliferation as assessed by nuclear Ki67 staining was elevated in the labyrinth and decreased in the spongiotrophoblast region of Hbegf-/- placentas. Labyrinth morphology appeared disrupted in Hbegf -/- placentas stained with laminin, a marker for capillary basement membrane, and the capillary density was reduced. Immunohistochemical staining revealed reduced vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels in both spongiotrophoblast and labyrinth (P < 0.01) regions of Hbegf-/- placentas. In vitro, HBEGF supplementation increases the expression of VEGF in a human trophoblast cell line. These findings suggest that trophoblast HBEGF promotes placental capillary formation by inducing VEGF in the developing placenta of mice.
Project description:Mutations in the gene encoding the cholesterol biosynthetic enzyme NSDHL are associated with the X-linked male-lethal bare patches (Bpa) mouse. Mutant male embryos for several Nsdhl alleles die in midgestation with placental insufficiency. We examined here a possible role of the maternal genotype in such placental pathology. Pre-pregnancy plasma cholesterol levels were similar between wild-type (WT) and Bpa(1H)/+ dams fed a standard, cholesterol-free diet. However, there was a marked decrease in cholesterol levels between embryonic day (E)8.5 and E10.5 for both genotypes. Further, there was a significant lag between E11.5 and E13.5 (P = 0.0011) in the recovery of levels in Bpa(1H)/+ dams to their pre-pregnancy values. To investigate possible effects of the maternal genotype on fetal placentation, we generated transgenic mice that expressed human NSDHL and rescued the male lethality of the Bpa(1H) null allele. We then compared placenta area at E10.5 in WT and Bpa(1H)/+ female embryos where the mutant X chromosome was transmitted from a heterozygous mother or a rescued mutant father. In mutant conceptuses, placental areas were approximately 50% less than WT. Surprisingly, expression of Nsdhl in trophoblast lineages of the placenta and yolk sac endoderm, which occurs only from the maternally inherited allele in a female embryo, had the largest effect on placental area (-0.681 mm(2); P < 0.0001). The maternal genotype had a smaller effect, independent of the fetal genotype (-0.283 mm(2); P = 0.024). These data demonstrate significant effects of the mother and fetal membranes on pregnancy outcome, with possible implications for cholesterol homeostasis during human pregnancy.
Project description:The therian-specific gene paternally expressed 10 (Peg10) plays an essential role in placenta formation: Peg10 knockout mice exhibit early embryonic lethality as a result of severe placental defects. The PEG10 protein exhibits homology with long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposon GAG and POL proteins; therefore, we generated mice harboring a mutation in the highly conserved viral aspartic protease motif in the POL-like region of PEG10 because this motif is essential for the life cycle of LTR retrotransposons/retroviruses. Intriguingly, frequent perinatal lethality, not early embryonic lethality, was observed with fetal and placental growth retardation starting mid-gestation. In the mutant placentas, severe defects were observed in the fetal vasculature, where PEG10 is expressed in the three trophoblast cell layers that surround fetal capillary endothelial cells. Thus, Peg10 has essential roles, not only in early placenta formation, but also in placental vasculature maintenance from mid- to late-gestation. This implies that along the feto-maternal placenta interface an interaction occurs between two retrovirus-derived genes, Peg10 and retrotransposon Gag like 1 (Rtl1, also called Peg11), that is essential for the maintenance of fetal capillary endothelial cells.
Project description:In most mammalian species, a key process of placenta development is the fusion of trophoblast cells into a highly specialized, multinucleated syncytiotrophoblast layer, through which most of the maternofetal exchanges take place. Little is known about this process, despite the recent identification of 2 pairs of envelope genes of retroviral origin, independently acquired by the human (syncytin-1 and syncytin-2) and mouse (syncytin-A and syncytin-B) genomes, specifically expressed in the placenta, and with in vitro cell-cell fusion activity. By generating knockout mice, we show here that homozygous syncytin-A null mouse embryos die in utero between 11.5 and 13.5 days of gestation. Refined cellular and subcellular analyses of the syncytin-A-deficient placentae disclose specific disruption of the architecture of the syncytiotrophoblast-containing labyrinth, with the trophoblast cells failing to fuse into an interhemal syncytial layer. Lack of syncytin-A-mediated trophoblast cell fusion is associated with cell overexpansion at the expense of fetal blood vessel spaces and with apoptosis, adding to the observed maternofetal interface structural defects to provoke decreased vascularization, inhibition of placental transport, and fetal growth retardation, ultimately resulting in death of the embryo. These results demonstrate that syncytin-A is essential for trophoblast cell differentiation and syncytiotrophoblast morphogenesis during placenta development, and they provide evidence that genes captured from ancestral retroviruses have been pivotal in the acquisition of new, important functions in mammalian evolution.
Project description:Healthy pregnancy depends on proper placentation-including proliferation, differentiation, and invasion of trophoblast cells-which, if impaired, causes placental ischemia resulting in intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia. Mechanisms regulating trophoblast invasion, however, are unknown. We report that reduction of Inverted formin 2 (INF2) alters intracellular trafficking and significantly impairs invasion in a model of human extravillous trophoblasts. Furthermore, global loss of Inf2 in mice recapitulates maternal and fetal phenotypes of placental insufficiency. Inf2-/- dams have reduced spiral artery numbers and late gestational hypertension with resolution following delivery. Inf2-/- fetuses are growth restricted and demonstrate changes in umbilical artery Doppler consistent with poor placental perfusion and fetal distress. Loss of Inf2 increases fetal vascular density in the placenta and dysregulates trophoblast expression of angiogenic factors. Our data support a critical regulatory role for INF2 in trophoblast invasion-a necessary process for placentation-representing a possible future target for improving placentation and fetal outcomes.
Project description:SUMO-specific protease 2 (SENP2) activities to remove SUMO from its substrates is essential for development of trophoblast stem cells, niches and lineages. Global deletion of SENP2 leads to midgestation lethality, and causes severe defects in the placenta which is accompanied by embryonic brain and heart abnormalities. Because of the placental deficiencies, the role of SENP2 in development of the embryonic tissues has not been properly determined. The brain and heart abnormalities may be secondary to placental insufficiency. Here we have created a new mouse strain permitting conditional inactivation of SENP2. Mice homozygous for germline deletion of the conditional allele exhibit trophoblast defects and embryonic abnormalities resembling the global SENP2 knockout. However, tissue-specific disruptions of SENP2 demonstrate its dispensable role in embryogenesis. Placental expression of SENP2 is necessary and sufficient for embryonic heart and brain development. Using a protease deficient model, we further demonstrate the requirement of SENP2-dependent SUMO modification in development of all major trophoblast lineages. SENP2 regulates sumoylation of Mdm2 which controls p53 activities critical for G-S transition of mitotic division and endoreduplication in trophoblast proliferation and differentiation, respectively. The differentiation of trophoblasts is also dependent on SENP2-mediated activation of p57(Kip2), a CDK-specific inhibitor required for endoreduplication.