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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997 Sep;82(9):3116-23.

Endothelin-1 and ETA receptor expression in vascular smooth muscle cells from human placenta: a new ETA receptor messenger ribonucleic acid is generated by alternative splicing of exon 3.

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  • 1INSERM U-361, Université René-Descartes, Paris, France.


Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a potent vasoactive peptide in stem villi vessels, which are considered to be the major sites of placental vascular resistance. To investigate the influence of pregnancy-specific hormonal environment on ET and ET receptor (ET-R) expression, we first developed and characterized a culture of vascular smooth muscle cells from stem villi vessels. Secondly, we investigated whether the muscular layer of stem villi vessels could be a site of the ET expression described in the placenta, and we examined this expression in placental vascular smooth muscle cells (PVSMCs). Prepro-ET-1 and prepro-ET-3 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) were identified in stem villi vessels, whereas only prepro-ET-1 mRNA was observed in PVSMCs. Third, with the goal of using PVSMCs as ET target cells, we characterized the ET-R expressed by these cells in comparison with the muscular layer of stem villi vessels. Whereas both ETA-R and ETB-R are present in stem villi vessels, we found that PVSMCs express exclusively ETA-R. In addition to the previously reported ETA-R spliced transcripts, we described a new ETA-R transcript, ETA-R delta 3, generated by exclusion of exon 3 in stem villi vessels and PVSMCs. Alternative splicing mechanisms of ETA-R mRNA could constitute a control of the abundance of active ETA-R in terms of contractility. PVSMCs will be a useful model to study the environmental stimuli involved in the regulation of ET and ET-R expression in the muscular layer of feto-placental vasculature.

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