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Endocrinology. 2015 May;156(5):1851-9. doi: 10.1210/en.2014-1760. Epub 2015 Feb 4.

ETS1 induces human trophoblast differentiation.

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Divisions of Endocrinology (C.A.K., S.H.) and Pathology (J.W.S., K.F.S.), Children's Hospital Medical Center, and Departments of Pediatrics (C.A.K., S.H.) and Pathology (J.W.S., K.F.S.), University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229.


A possible role for the transcription factor v-ets avian erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog 1 (ETS1) in human trophoblast cell differentiation was examined using a highly enriched fraction of human mononuclear cytotrophoblast cells (CTBs) that differentiate spontaneously in vitro to a multinucleated syncytiotrophoblast cell (STB) phenotype. ETS1 mRNA and protein levels were abundant in freshly isolated CTBs and decreased as the cells differentiated. Silencing of ETS1 expression in freshly prepared CTBs markedly attenuated syncytialization, as demonstrated by desmoplakin staining, and blocked the induction of syncytin, the transcription factor activator protein-2α, placental lactogen, and other STB-specific genes. Conversely, overexpression of ETS1 in primary trophoblast cells induced STB marker gene mRNAs and transactivated each of the gene proximal promoters. Taken together, these findings strongly suggest a critical role for ETS1 in the induction of human villus CTB differentiation. The effect of ETS1 on syncytialization likely results, at least in part, from inhibition of syncytin expression, whereas the induction of STB marker genes likely results in part from transactivation by activator protein-2α.

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