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Hum Immunol. 2000 Nov;61(11):1113-7.

HLA-G in reproduction: studies on the maternal-fetal interface.

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Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Kansas City, KS 66160-7400, USA.


For more than a decade, investigators have known that membrane-bound and soluble isoforms of the HLA class Ib molecule, HLA-G, are present at the maternal-fetal interface. Although it is clear that extravillous cytotrophoblast cells are major producers, other cells may also contribute. Recent studies in our laboratory raised the question of whether soluble isoforms might reach the maternal and/or fetal blood circulation. A capture enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay (ELISA) identified soluble HLA-G (sHLA-G) in maternal blood throughout pregnancy but failed to detect sHLA-G in cord sera. Further studies suggested that the circulating proteins may be either free heavy chain (sHLA-G1 and/or sHLA-G2) or exclusively sHLA-G2. To study the potential function(s) of the soluble isoforms to modulate local or systemic immunity in mothers, we generated recombinant sHLA-G1 and -G2 in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. Preliminary experiments conducted using DNA microarray analysis suggest that sHLA-G is capable of modulating gene expression in blood mononuclear leukocytes. Potential local targets were also identified; decidual and placental macrophages but not trophoblast cells contained mRNA encoding two of the known receptors for HLA-G, ILT2 and ILT4. Collectively, the studies are consistent with the hypothesis that sHLA-G produced at the maternal-fetal interface targets to the cells of the monocyte/macrophage lineage and modulates their functions for the benefit of pregnancy.

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