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Growth Horm IGF Res. 1999 Dec;9(6):438-44.

IGF binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) is preferentially associated with the fetal-facing basal surface of the syncytiotrophoblast in the human placenta.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


IGF receptors are expressed in a spatially polarized manner on the syncytiotrophoblast cell membrane. We therefore examined the hypothesis that IGFBPs expressed at the maternal-fetal interface interact with distinct surfaces of the syncytiotrophoblast membrane to modulate IGF function. Membrane vesicles were prepared specifically from the maternal-facing, microvillous membrane (MVM) and the fetal-facing, basal membrane (BM) surfaces of the syncytiotrophoblast. The association of IGFBPs with each membrane preparation was determined by ligand blot analysis. A doublet migrating at 38/42 kD was detected in both MVM and BM preparations. Selective immunoprecipitation followed by ligand blot analysis identified this IGF binding species as IGFBP-3. Additionally, a protein migrating at approximately 29 kD was associated primarily with the BM. This protein was identified as IGFBP-1 by both immunoprecipitation and ligandblotting techniques. Non-denaturing PAGE revealed five distinct bands corresponding to different degrees of phosphorylation. The phosphorylation pattern of BM-associated IGFBP-1 was identical to that of native IGFBP-1 in amniotic fluid. Immunohistological analysis of term placenta revealed IGFBP-1-specific staining of the syncytiotrophoblast and the fetal capillary/pericapillary bed. The localization of IGFBP-1 to a distinct compartment within the fetal placenta, not in proximity to the syncytiotrophoblast type I IGF receptor, suggests it may play a role in regulating/targeting IGF activity within the stromal compartment or by exerting IGF-independent effects on the basal surface of the syncytiotrophoblast. The nature of its binding to the BM has not been determined.

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