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Biol Reprod. 2003 Jul;69(1):286-93. Epub 2003 Mar 5.

Temporal regulation of the expression of syncytin (HERV-W), maternally imprinted PEG10, and SGCE in human placenta.

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  • 1Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, King's College Hospital Medical School, London SE5 9RS, United Kingdom.


Maternally imprinted PEG10 and SGCE, separated by approximately 2.15 Mb from Syncytin (HERV-W) gene at 7q21.3, are implicated in choriocarcinoma and Silver-Russell syndrome. Here we have analyzed the temporal regulation of mRNA expression of these genes in placenta and demonstrate that Syncytin gene activation is highest in term placenta, PEG10, downregulated at early hypoxic phase, and highly activated at 11-12 wk of gestation. In contrast, transcription from SGCE remained unchanged throughout pregnancy, suggesting two neighboring imprinted genes are differentially regulated at very early pregnancy. Additionally, accumulation of two major species of mRNA (8 kb and 3.1 kb) encoded by HERV-W in placenta is regulated: 3.1 kb mRNA level remained unchanged throughout pregnancy, whereas the production of 8 kb species was highest in term placenta. Western blot and immunohistochemical staining of placental tissues with monoclonal antibodies revealed a marked reduction of syncytin glycoprotein synthesis in late pregnancy. Therefore, the relative levels of 3.1 kb and 8 kb mRNAs in trophoblasts could regulate syncytin protein synthesis, possibly by competition of the two mRNA species for translational apparatus.

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