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Ann Anat. 2011 Mar;193(2):142-8. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2010.12.002. Epub 2011 Jan 26.

Complex patterns of ADAM12 mRNA and protein splice variants in the human placenta.

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Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.



Trophoblast fusion in the placenta is prerequisite to successful pregnancy and the pathological conditions related to it. The presence of syncytin-1, is not sufficient to explain the complete event and ADAM12 is a major co-player candidate. Via differential splicing, the ADAM12 gene produces a short and a long form, being the ADAM12-S and the ADAM12-L respectively.


We investigated the localisation of both variants in the human placenta using whole mount in situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry and Northern blotting in 1st (n=8) and 3rd (n=8) trimester placentae and in the case of NB in several cell lines. In Northern blotting, 1st and 3rd trimester placentae were positive for the ADAM12-S and Bewo, 293HEK, JAR, leucocytes, macrophages, 1st and 3rd trimester placentae were positive for ADAM12-L. In whole mount in situ hybridisation, the 1st and 3rd trimester placental syncytium was positive for both variants. In immunohistochemistry, ADAM12-L localised in the cytotrophoblast of both 1st and 3rd trimester placentae, while ADAM12-S localised in the complete syncytium, often including the cytotrophoblast.


The different localisation of ADAM12-S and ADAM12-L indicates a possible different role making ADAM12-L a candidate for the fusion event, while the syncytial localisation of the ADAM12-S makes it a candidate for cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions between the placental syncytium and the maternal interface.

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