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Placenta. 2011 Jan;32(1):33-43. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2010.10.010. Epub 2010 Nov 13.

Genome-wide expression profile of first trimester villous and extravillous human trophoblast cells.

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Department of Pathology and Centre for Trophoblast Research, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK.


We have examined the transcriptional changes associated with differentiation from villous to extravillous trophoblast using a whole genome microarray. Villous trophoblast (VT) is in contact with maternal blood and mediates nutrient exchange whereas extravillous trophoblast (EVT) invades the decidua and remodels uterine arteries. Using highly purified first trimester trophoblast we identified over 3000 transcripts that are differentially expressed. Many of these transcripts represent novel functions and pathways that show co-ordinated up-regulation in VT or EVT. In addition we identify new players in established functions such as migration, immune modulation and cytokine or angiogenic factor secretion by EVT. The transition from VT to EVT is also characterised by alterations in transcription factors such as STAT4 and IRF9, which may co-ordinate these changes. Transcripts encoding several members of the immunoglobulin-superfamily, which are normally expressed on leukocytes, were highly transcribed in EVT but not expressed as protein, indicating specific control of translation in EVT. Interactions of trophoblast with decidual leukocytes are involved in regulating EVT invasion. We show that decidual T-cells, macrophages and NK cells express the inhibitory collagen receptor LAIR-1 and that EVT secrete LAIR-2, which can block this interaction. This represents a new mechanism by which EVT can modulate leukocyte function in the decidua. Since LAIR-2 is detectable in the urine of pregnant, but not non-pregnant women, trophoblast-derived LAIR-2 may also have systemic effects during pregnancy.

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