ABSTRACT: 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:Monoallelic expression of imprinted genes, including ones solely expressed in the placenta, is essential for normal placental development and fetal growth. To better understand the role of placental imprinting in placental development and fetal growth, we examined conceptuses developing in the absence of maternally derived DNA (cytosine-5-)-methyltransferase 1o (DNMT1o). Absence of DNMT1o results in the partial loss of methylation at imprinted differentially methylated domain (DMD) sequences in the embryo and the placenta. Mid-gestation E9.5 DNMT1o-deficient placentas exhibited structural abnormalities of all tissue layers. At E17.5, all examined placentas had aberrant placental morphology, most notably in the spongiotrophoblast and labyrinth layers. Abnormalities included an expanded volume fraction of spongiotrophoblast tissue with extension of the spongiotrophoblast layer into the labyrinth. Many mutant placentas also demonstrated migration abnormalities of glycogen cells. Additionally, the volume fraction of the labyrinth was reduced, as was the surface area for maternal fetal gas exchange. Despite these placental morphologic abnormalities, approximately one-half of DNMT1o-deficient fetuses survived to late gestation (E17.5). Furthermore, DNMT1o-deficient placentas supported a broad range of fetal growth. The ability of some DNMT1o-deficient and morphologically abnormal placentas to support fetal growth in excess of wild type demonstrates the importance of differential methylation of DMDs and proper imprinting of discrete gene clusters to placental morphogenesis and fetal growth.
Project description:Several imprinted genes have been implicated in the regulation of placental function and embryonic growth. On distal mouse chromosome 7, two clusters of imprinted genes, each regulated by its own imprinting center (IC), are separated by a poorly characterized region of 280kb (the IC1-IC2 interval). We previously generated a mouse line in which this IC1-IC2 interval has been deleted (Del(7AI) allele) and found that maternal inheritance of this allele results in low birth weights in newborns. Here we report that Del(7AI) causes a partial loss of Ascl2, a maternally expressed gene in the IC2 cluster, which when knocked out leads to embryonic lethality at midgestation due to a lack of spongiotrophoblast formation. The hypomorphic Ascl2 allele causes embryonic growth restriction and an associated placental phenotype characterized by a reduction in placental weight, reduced spongiotrophoblast population, absence of glycogen cells, and an expanded trophoblast giant cell layer. We also uncovered severe defects in the labyrinth layer of maternal mutants including increased production of the trilaminar labyrinth trophoblast cell types and a disorganized labyrinthine vasculature. Our results have important implications for our understanding of the role played by the spongiotrophoblast layer during placentation and show that regulation of the dosage of the imprinted gene Ascl2 can affect all three layers of the chorio-allantoic placenta.
Project description:This study characterized the effect of the reduced utero-placental perfusion pressure (RUPP) model of placental insufficiency on placental morphology and trophoblast differentiation at mid-late gestation (E14.5). Altered trophoblast proliferation, reduced syncytiotrophoblast gene expression, increased numbers of sinusoidal trophoblast giant cells, decreased Vegfa and decreased pericyte presence in the labyrinth were observed in addition to changes in maternal blood spaces, the fetal capillary network and reduced fetal weight. Further, the junctional zone was characterized by reduced spongiotrophoblast and glycogen trophoblast with increased trophoblast giant cells. Increased Hif-1? and TGF-?-3 in vivo with supporting hypoxia studies in trophoblast stem (TS) cells in vitro, support hypoxia as a contributing factor to the RUPP placenta phenotype. Together, this study identifies altered cell populations within the placenta that may contribute to the phenotype, and thus support the use of RUPP in the mouse as a model of placenta insufficiency. As such, this model in the mouse provides a valuable tool for understanding the phenotypes resulting from genetic manipulation of isolated cell populations to further understand the etiology of placenta insufficiency and fetal growth restriction. Further this study identifies a novel relationship between placental insufficiency and pericyte depletion in the labyrinth layer.
Project description:Maternal PI3K p110? has been implicated in smaller litter sizes in mice, but its underlying mechanism remains unclear. The placenta is an indispensable chimeric organ that supports mammalian embryonic development. Using a mouse model of genetic inactivation of PI3K p110? (p110?(D910A/D910A)), we show that fetuses carried by p110?(D910A/D910A) females were growth retarded and showed increased mortality in utero mainly during placentation. The placentas in p110?(D910A/D910A) females were anomalously anemic, exhibited thinner spongiotrophoblast layer and looser labyrinth zone, which indicate defective placental vasculogenesis. In addition, p110? was detected in primary trophoblast giant cells (P-TGC) at early placentation. Maternal PI3K p110? inactivation affected normal TGCs generation and expansion, impeded the branching of chorioallantoic placenta but enhanced the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2, MMP-12). Poor vasculature support for the developing fetoplacental unit resulted in fetal death or gross growth retardation. These data, taken together, provide the first in vivo evidence that p110? may play an important role in placental vascularization through manipulating trophoblast giant cell.
Project description:The major milestones in mouse placental development are well described, but our understanding is limited to how the placenta can adapt to damage or changes in the environment. By using stereology and expression of cell cycle markers, we found that the placenta grows under normal conditions not just by hyperplasia of trophoblast cells but also through extensive polyploidy and cell hypertrophy. In response to feeding a low protein diet to mothers prior to and during pregnancy, to mimic chronic malnutrition, we found that this normal program was altered and that it was influenced by the sex of the conceptus. Male fetuses showed intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) by embryonic day (E) 18.5, just before term, whereas female fetuses showed IUGR as early as E16.5. This difference was correlated with differences in the size of the labyrinth layer of the placenta, the site of nutrient and gas exchange. Functional changes were implied based on up-regulation of nutrient transporter genes. The junctional zone was also affected, with a reduction in both glycogen trophoblast and spongiotrophoblast cells. These changes were associated with increased expression of Phlda2 and reduced expression of Egfr. Polyploidy, which results from endoreduplication, is a normal feature of trophoblast giant cells (TGC) but also spongiotrophoblast cells. Ploidy was increased in sinusoidal-TGCs and spongiotrophoblast cells, but not parietal-TGCs, in low protein placentas. These results indicate that the placenta undergoes a range of changes in development and function in response to poor maternal diet, many of which we interpret are aimed at mitigating the impacts on fetal and maternal health.
Project description:Activating mutations in the human KIT receptor is known to drive severe hematopoietic disorders and tumor formation spanning various entities. The most common mutation is the substitution of aspartic acid at position 816 to valine (D816V), rendering the receptor constitutively active independent of ligand binding. As the role of the KIT receptor in placental signaling cascades is poorly understood, we analyzed the impact of KITD816V expression on placental development using a humanized mouse model. Placentas from KITD816V animals present with a grossly changed morphology, displaying a reduction in labyrinth and spongiotrophoblast layer and an increase in the Parietal Trophoblast Giant Cell (P-TGC) layer. Elevated differentiation to P-TGCs was accompanied with reduced differentiation to other Trophoblast Giant Cell (TGC) subtypes and by severe decrease in proliferation. The embryos display growth retardation and die in utero. KITD816V-trophoblast stem cells (TSC) differentiate much faster compared to wild type (WT) controls. In undifferentiated KITD816V-TSCs, levels of Phosphorylated Extracellular-signal Regulated Kinase (P-ERK) and Phosphorylated Protein Kinase B (P-AKT) are comparable to wildtype cultures differentiating for 3-6 days. Accordingly, P-TGC markers Placental Lactogen 1 (PL1) and Proliferin (PLF) are upregulated as well. The results reveal that KIT signaling orchestrates the fine-tuned differentiation of the placenta, with special emphasis on P-TGC differentiation. Appropriate control of KIT receptor action is therefore essential for placental development and nourishment of the embryo.
Project description:We recently reported the first evidence of placental endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the pathophysiology of human intrauterine growth restriction. Here, we used a mouse model to investigate potential underlying mechanisms. Eif2s1(tm1RjK) mice, in which Ser51 of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 subunit alpha (eIF2?) is mutated, display a 30% increase in basal translation. In Eif2s1(tm1RjK) placentas, we observed increased ER stress and anomalous accumulation of glycoproteins in the endocrine junctional zone (Jz), but not in the labyrinthine zone where physiological exchange occurs. Placental and fetal weights were reduced by 15% (97 mg to 82 mg, p < 0.001) and 20% (1009 mg to 798 mg, p < 0.001), respectively. To investigate whether ER stress affects bioactivity of secreted proteins, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) were derived from Eif2s1(tm1RjK) mutants. These MEFs exhibited ER stress, grew 50% slower, and showed reduced Akt-mTOR signalling compared to wild-type cells. Conditioned medium (CM) derived from Eif2s1(tm1RjK) MEFs failed to maintain trophoblast stem cells in a progenitor state, but the effect could be rescued by exogenous application of FGF4 and heparin. In addition, ER stress promoted accumulation of pro-Igf2 with altered glycosylation in the CM without affecting cellular levels, indicating that the protein failed to be processed after release. Igf2 is the major growth factor for placental development; indeed, activity in the Pdk1-Akt-mTOR pathways was decreased in Eif2s1(tm1RjK) placentas, indicating loss of Igf2 signalling. Furthermore, we observed premature differentiation of trophoblast progenitors at E9.5 in mutant placentas, consistent with the in vitro results and with the disproportionate development of the labyrinth and Jz seen in placentas at E18.5. Similar disproportion has been reported in the Igf2-null mouse. These results demonstrate that ER stress adversely affects placental development, and that modulation of post-translational processing, and hence bioactivity, of secreted growth factors contributes to this effect. Placental dysmorphogenesis potentially affects fetal growth through reduced exchange capacity.
Project description:Healthy placental development is essential for reproductive success; failure of the feto-maternal interface results in pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth retardation. We found that grainyhead-like 2 (GRHL2), a CP2-type transcription factor, is highly expressed in chorionic trophoblast cells, including basal chorionic trophoblast (BCT) cells located at the chorioallantoic interface in murine placentas. Placentas from Grhl2-deficient mouse embryos displayed defects in BCT cell polarity and basement membrane integrity at the chorioallantoic interface, as well as a severe disruption of labyrinth branching morphogenesis. Selective Grhl2 inactivation only in epiblast-derived cells rescued all placental defects but phenocopied intraembryonic defects observed in global Grhl2 deficiency, implying the importance of Grhl2 activity in trophectoderm-derived cells. ChIP-seq identified 5282 GRHL2 binding sites in placental tissue. By integrating these data with placental gene expression profiles, we identified direct and indirect Grhl2 targets and found a marked enrichment of GRHL2 binding adjacent to genes downregulated in Grhl2(-/-) placentas, which encoded known regulators of placental development and epithelial morphogenesis. These genes included that encoding the serine protease inhibitor Kunitz type 1 (Spint1), which regulates BCT cell integrity and labyrinth formation. In human placenta, we found that human orthologs of murine GRHL2 and its targets displayed co-regulation and were expressed in trophoblast cells in a similar domain as in mouse placenta. Our data indicate that a conserved Grhl2-coordinated gene network controls trophoblast branching morphogenesis, thereby facilitating development of the site of feto-maternal exchange. This might have implications for syndromes related to placental dysfunction.
Project description:Imprinted genes are expressed primarily from one parental allele by virtue of a germ line epigenetic process. Achaete-scute complex homolog 2 (Ascl2 aka Mash2) is a maternally expressed imprinted gene that plays a key role in placental and intestinal development. Loss-of-function of Ascl2 results in an expansion of the parietal trophoblast giant cell (P-TGC) lineage, an almost complete loss of Trophoblast specific protein alpha (Tpbpa) positive cells in the ectoplacental cone and embryonic failure by E10.5. Tpbpa expression marks the progenitors of some P-TGCs, two additional trophoblast giant cell lineages (spiral artery and canal), the spongiotrophoblast and the glycogen cell lineage. Using a transgenic model, here we show that elevated expression of Ascl2 reduced the number of P-TGC cells by 40%. Elevated Ascl2 also resulted in a marked loss of the spongiotrophoblast and a substantial mislocalisation of glycogen cells into the labyrinth. In addition, Ascl2-Tg placenta contained considerably more placental glycogen than wild type. Glycogen cells are normally located within the junctional zone in close contact with spongiotrophoblast cells, before migrating through the P-TGC layer into the maternal decidua late in gestation where their stores of glycogen are released. The failure of glycogen cells to release their stores of glycogen may explain both the inappropriate accumulation of glycogen and fetal growth restriction observed late in gestation in this model. In addition, using in a genetic cross we provide evidence that Ascl2 requires the activity of a second maternally expressed imprinted gene, Pleckstrin homology-like domain, family a, member 2 (Phlda2) to limit the expansion of the spongiotrophoblast. This "belts and braces" approach demonstrates the importance of genomic imprinting in regulating the size of the placental endocrine compartment for optimal placental development and fetal growth.
Project description:Smoking increases the risk of pregnancy complications such as spontaneous abortion and low birth weight (LBW). By cigarette smoke exposure (gestational day, GD3-17), normal-litter-size pregnancy with low birth weight (NP-LBW) and small-litter-size pregnancy with normal birth weight (SP-NBW) in rats were induced. The placental weight in SP-NBW was twice the weight of the normal in contrast with the smaller placenta in NP-LBW. Compared with the normal, placental efficiency (expressed as fetus-to-placenta weight ratio) and placental vascularisation were significantly decreased in smoke exposed placentas with more obvious decrease in SP-NBW. For NP-LBW, decreased placental vascularisation was due to decreased labyrinth vascularisation which was caused by both decreased number density and diameter of fetal capillary. For SP-NBW, decreased placental vascularisation was due to reduced proportion of labyrinth in placenta and decreased labyrinth vascularisation which was caused by decreased fetal capillary number density. Real time RT-PCR analysis showed a tendency for decreased placental mRNA level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), angiopoietin-1 (Ang1) and tyrosine kinase receptor-2 (Tie2) in NP-LBW(P<0.1), and the tendency became obvious in SP-NBW(P<0.05). A tendency for decreased placental mRNA level of fms-like tyrosine kinase-1(Flt1) and angiopoietin-2 (Ang2) was also observed in SP-LBW(P<0.1). Our data demonstrated the synergistic negative effect of gestational smoke-exposure and small litter size on placental efficiency, placental vascularisation and placental angiogenic growth factor mRNA expression in rat.