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Proteomics Clin Appl. 2009 Dec;3(12):1389-96. doi: 10.1002/prca.200900109.

High-throughput discovery and characterization of fetal protein trafficking in the blood of pregnant women.

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Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Newborn Medicine 800 Washington Street, Box 44 Boston, MA 02111.


Although the measurement of fetal proteins in maternal serum is part of standard prenatal screening for aneuploidy and neural tube defects, attempts to better understand the extent of feto-maternal protein trafficking and its clinical and biological significance have been hindered by the presence of abundant maternal proteins. The objective of this study was to circumvent maternal protein interference by using a computational predictive approach for the development of a noninvasive, comprehensive, protein network analysis of the developing fetus in maternal whole blood. From a set of 157 previously identified fetal gene transcripts, 46 were classified into known protein networks, and 222 downstream proteins were predicted. Statistically significantly over-represented pathways were diverse and included T-cell biology, neurodevelopment and cancer biology. Western blot analyses validated the computational predictive model and confirmed the presence of specific downstream fetal proteins in the whole blood of pregnant women and their newborns, with absence or reduced detection of the protein in the maternal postpartum samples. This work demonstrates that extensive feto-maternal protein trafficking occurs during pregnancy, and can be predicted and verified to develop novel noninvasive biomarkers. This study raises important questions regarding the biological effects of fetal proteins on the pregnant woman.


Fetal Proteins; Feto-Maternal Trafficking Network Analysis; Prenatal Diagnosis

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