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Placenta. 1993 May-Jun;14(3):277-85.

Differential gene expression in the amnion, chorion, and trophoblast of the human placenta.

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  • 1Human Genetics Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), placental alkaline phosphatase (PLAP), and pregnancy-specific glycoprotein (PSG) are three major proteins produced by the trophoblast of the human placenta. Immunocytochemical studies suggest that PSG and hCG are also present in the human amnion. In this study, we examined whether amniotic and chorionic membranes were capable of expressing trophoblastic-specific genes. As previously reported, trophoblasts express high levels of hCG beta, hCG alpha, PLAP, and PSG. Both amnion and chorion were found to express PLAP and hCG beta mRNA. However, the hCG alpha transcript was expressed only by the amnion, but not by the chorion in the term placenta. Recent molecular cloning studies indicate that human PSGs are a group of closely related placental proteins that, together with the carcinoembryonic antigen family members, comprise a subfamily within the immunoglobulin superfamily. To demonstrate that amnion and chorion also express PSG transcripts, we employed ribonuclease protection analysis using probes specific to the 5' and 3' region of PSG mRNAs. Our data indicate that while amniotic as well as chorionic membrane expressed low levels of the PSG genes, only a certain subpopulation of PSG transcripts were expressed. Furthermore, the amnion and chorion demonstrated differences in PSG species expression from each other and from trophoblastic tissue. Thus, human amnion, chorion and trophoblast selectively express several placental genes.

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