A disintegrin and metalloproteinase 12 (ADAM12) localizes to invasive trophoblast, promotes cell invasion and directs column outgrowth in early placental development.
Transforming growth factor beta 1 is believed to be a key regulator of extravillous cytotrophoblast invasion during the first trimester of pregnancy. In addition, this growth factor has been shown to regulate cellular differentiation and fusion in cultured extravillous cytotrophoblasts. To date, the cellular mechanisms by which transforming growth factor beta 1 promotes these developmental processes remain poorly understood. Recent studies indicate that the expression of the novel cadherin subtype, known as cadherin-11, is associated with the terminal differentiation and fusion of villous cytotrophoblasts isolated from the human term placenta and human myoblasts in vitro. In this study, cadherin-11 mRNA and protein expression were examined in primary cultures of human extravillous cytotrophoblasts cultured in the presence of increasing concentrations of transforming growth factor beta 1 using northern and western blot analysis, respectively. Transforming growth factor beta 1 was shown to increase cadherin-11 mRNA and protein expression in these cultured extravillous cytotrophoblasts in a dose-dependent manner. Cadherin-11 was further localized to the large cellular aggregates and multinucleated cells that formed in response to increasing concentrations of transforming growth factor beta 1 using immunocytochemistry. Collectively, these observations suggest that the morphogenetic effects of transforming growth factor beta 1 on cultured extravillous cytotrophoblasts are mediated, at least in part, by an increase in cadherin-11 expression. This study not only adds to the understanding of the cellular mechanisms by which transforming growth factor beta 1 promotes trophoblast differentiation and fusion but provides useful insight into the cell biology of the cadherins.