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Mol Syst Biol. 2009;5:279. doi: 10.1038/msb.2009.37. Epub 2009 Jun 16.

Comparative systems biology of human and mouse as a tool to guide the modeling of human placental pathology.

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The Hospital for Sick Children, Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Placental abnormalities are associated with two of the most common and serious complications of human pregnancy, maternal preeclampsia (PE) and fetal intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), each disorder affecting approximately 5% of all pregnancies. An important question for the use of the mouse as a model for studying human disease is the degree of functional conservation of genetic control pathways from human to mouse. The human and mouse placenta show structural similarities, but there have been no systematic attempts to assess their molecular similarities or differences. We collected protein and mRNA expression data through shot-gun proteomics and microarray expression analysis of the highly vascular exchange region, microdissected from the human and mouse near-term placenta. Over 7000 ortholog genes were detected with 70% co-expressed in both species. Close to 90% agreement was found between our human proteomic results and 1649 genes assayed by immunohistochemistry for expression in the human placenta in the Human Protein Atlas. Interestingly, over 80% of genes known to cause placental phenotypes in mouse are co-expressed in human. Several of these phenotype-associated proteins form a tight protein-protein interaction network involving 15 known and 34 novel candidate proteins also likely important in placental structure and/or function. The entire data are available as a web-accessible database to guide the informed development of mouse models to study human disease.

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