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Placenta. 2009 Jan;30(1):48-55. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2008.10.001. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

Differentiation-induced post-transcriptional control of B7-H1 in human trophoblast cells.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.


Trophoblast expression of immunomodulatory proteins in the human placenta is among the mechanisms that are critical for ensuring lymphocyte tolerance to the semi-allogeneic fetus. High levels of B7-H1 on trophoblast cells together with the known role of this protein in establishment of peripheral tolerance suggest that B7-H1 mediates immunological protection of the placenta during gestation. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of regulation of B7-H1 in trophoblast cells by epidermal growth factor (EGF), a key regulator of trophoblast cell differentiation. EGF increased B7-H1 protein levels within 24 h and mRNA levels within 4h of the initiation of treatment; by 24 h B7-H1 mRNA levels were similar between control and EGF-treated cells. Analysis of two different potential promoter regions revealed strong promoter activity in response to IFN-gamma. In contrast, no promoter activity could be induced by EGF, suggesting that this cytokine regulates B7-H1 expression post-transcriptionally in trophoblast cells. EGF-induced B7-H1 protein expression was completely blocked in the presence of inhibitors of the PI3Kinase/Akt/mTOR pathway, a pathway known to regulate gene expression at the translational level. Finally, analysis of monosomal and polysomal mRNA fractions of untreated and EGF-treated term trophoblast cells revealed that EGF induces a shift towards the translatable fractions and away from the untranslated fractions. These results highlight a novel mechanism for regulation of B7 family proteins in the placenta.

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