Fine-scale quantification of HCG beta gene transcription in human trophoblastic and non-malignant non-trophoblastic tissues

Mol Hum Reprod. 2008 Jan;14(1):23-31. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gam082. Epub 2007 Nov 29.


Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is produced by syncytiotrophoblast of placenta. It delays the apoptosis of corpus luteum and functions in implantation. Its possible role in male reproduction has been raised. HCG beta subunit is encoded by CGB, CGB5, CGB7 and CGB8 genes located at 19q13.3 in a common genome cluster with beta subunit non-coding CGB1 and CGB2. We conducted a sensitive quantification and comparison of CGB gene expression in human trophoblastic (blastocysts, n = 6; normal/failed pregnancy, n = 51) and non-malignant non-trophoblastic tissues (15 different tissue types, samples n = 241), by real-time RT-PCR. We showed a wide transcriptional window of CGB genes in normal pregnancy, a significant reduction in recurrent miscarriages, and a high expression (especially CGB1/CGB2) in ectopic and molar pregnancies. Expression was several orders of magnitude lower in the non-placental tissues, with the highest CGB levels being seen in testis, prostate, thymus, skeletal muscle and lung samples. The contribution of CGB1/CGB2 to the summarized expression of six CGB genes was not proportional to their gene dosage: 1/1000 to 1/10,000. An interesting exception was the testis exhibiting a much higher CGB1/CGB2 to total CGB mRNA ratio of approximately one-third, corresponding to gene dosage. In conclusion, the expressional profile of CGB genes, activated already in blastocyst stage, is associated with the status of pregnancy. The presence of CGB transcripts in testes, and in particular CGB1/CGB2 transcripts, may indicate a role in male reproductive tract.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / genetics
  • Blastocyst / metabolism
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin, beta Subunit, Human / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism*


  • Chorionic Gonadotropin, beta Subunit, Human