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J Immunol. 1995 Apr 15;154(8):3771-8.

Human placental HLA-G expression is restricted to differentiated cytotrophoblasts.

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  • 1Department of Stomatology, University of California San Francisco 94143, USA.


Human placental trophoblasts lie at the maternal-fetal interface, a position in which they could play an important role in maternal tolerance of the fetal semi-allograft. Central to this hypothesis is their unusual MHC class I expression: they suppress class Ia production while expressing HLA-G, a class Ib molecule. We investigated human trophoblast HLA-G protein production in vivo and in vitro. We first used a synthetic peptide corresponding to the variable sequence of the alpha 1 domain to produce mAbs that recognized HLA-G. Ab specificity was demonstrated by immunoaffinity purification of a single protein with the same molecular mass (38 kDa) as HLA-G from choriocarcinoma cells. Use of these Abs to stain tissue sections of the maternal-fetal interface containing cytotrophoblasts in all stages of differentiation showed that HLA-G is expressed only by cytotrophoblasts that invade the uterus. Our previous in vitro studies showed that when early-gestation cytotrophoblast stem cells are cultured, they differentiate rapidly along the invasive pathway, as demonstrated by their expression of stage-specific markers. Here we show they also up-regulate HLA-G production. Cytotrophoblasts from term placentas, which have reduced invasive capacity in vitro, also had decreased ability to up-regulate HLA-G protein expression. We detected high levels of HLA-G mRNA in cytotrophoblasts isolated from first- and second-trimester placentas, but only trace amounts in term cells. Taken together, these results suggest that HLA-G production is a critical component of cytotrophoblast differentiation along the invasive pathway.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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