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Placenta. 2012 Oct;33(10):754-62. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Gene targeting in primary human trophoblasts.

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Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Mail Code 7836, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.


Studies in primary human trophoblasts provide critical insights into placental function in normal and complicated pregnancies. Mechanistic studies in these cells require experimental tools to modulate gene expression. Lipid-based methods to transfect primary trophoblasts are fairly simple to use and allow for the efficient delivery of nucleic acids, but potential toxic effects limit these methods. Viral vectors are versatile transfection tools of native trophoblastic or foreign cDNAs, providing high transfection efficiency, low toxicity and stable DNA integration into the trophoblast genome. RNA interference (RNAi), using small interfering RNA (siRNA) or microRNA, constitutes a powerful approach to silence trophoblast genes. However, off-target effects, such as regulation of unintended complementary transcripts, inflammatory responses and saturation of the endogenous RNAi machinery, are significant concerns. Strategies to minimize off-target effects include using multiple individual siRNAs, elimination of pro-inflammatory sequences in the siRNA construct and chemical modification of a nucleotide in the guide strand or of the ribose moiety. Tools for efficient gene targeting in primary human trophoblasts are currently available, albeit not yet extensively validated. These methods are critical for exploring the function of human trophoblast genes and may provide a foundation for the future application of gene therapy that targets placental trophoblasts.

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