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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2011 Dec;10(12):M111.012526. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M111.012526. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Translational analysis of mouse and human placental protein and mRNA reveals distinct molecular pathologies in human preeclampsia.

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


Preeclampsia (PE) adversely impacts ~5% of pregnancies. Despite extensive research, no consistent biomarkers or cures have emerged, suggesting that different molecular mechanisms may cause clinically similar disease. To address this, we undertook a proteomics study with three main goals: (1) to identify a panel of cell surface markers that distinguish the trophoblast and endothelial cells of the placenta in the mouse; (2) to translate this marker set to human via the Human Protein Atlas database; and (3) to utilize the validated human trophoblast markers to identify subgroups of human preeclampsia. To achieve these goals, plasma membrane proteins at the blood tissue interfaces were extracted from placentas using intravascular silica-bead perfusion, and then identified using shotgun proteomics. We identified 1181 plasma membrane proteins, of which 171 were enriched at the maternal blood-trophoblast interface and 192 at the fetal endothelial interface with a 70% conservation of expression in humans. Three distinct molecular subgroups of human preeclampsia were identified in existing human microarray data by using expression patterns of trophoblast-enriched proteins. Analysis of all misexpressed genes revealed divergent dysfunctions including angiogenesis (subgroup 1), MAPK signaling (subgroup 2), and hormone biosynthesis and metabolism (subgroup 3). Subgroup 2 lacked expected changes in known preeclampsia markers (sFLT1, sENG) and uniquely overexpressed GNA12. In an independent set of 40 banked placental specimens, GNA12 was overexpressed during preeclampsia when co-incident with chronic hypertension. In the current study we used a novel translational analysis to integrate mouse and human trophoblast protein expression with human microarray data. This strategy identified distinct molecular pathologies in human preeclampsia. We conclude that clinically similar preeclampsia patients exhibit divergent placental gene expression profiles thus implicating divergent molecular mechanisms in the origins of this disease.

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