Prostaglandin (PG) E(2) may regulate invasiveness of human placenta because we previously reported stimulation of migration of placental trophoblasts by PGE(2) acting through PGE receptor (EP)-1 and activating calpain. RhoA GTPase and its important effector Rho kinase (ROCK) have also been previously shown to regulate trophoblast migration. Using immortalized HTR-8/SVneo trophoblast cells and first-trimester human chorionic villus explant cultures on matrigel, we further examined the role of RhoA/ROCK and MAPK (ERK1/2) pathways on PGE(2)-mediated stimulation of trophoblast migration. Migration of cytotrophoblasts was shown to be inhibited by treatment of the trophoblast cell line and chorionic villus explants with either cell-permeable C3 transferase or selective RhoA small interfering RNA. These inhibitions were significantly mitigated by the addition of PGE(2), an EP1/EP3 agonist or an EP3/EP4 agonist, suggesting that RhoA plays an important role in trophoblast migration but may not be obligatory for PGE(2) action. Treatment of HTR-8/SVneo cells with nonselective ROCK inhibitor Y27632 or ROCK small interfering RNAs inhibited migration of these cells, which could not be rescued with PGE(2) or the other two EP agonists, suggesting the obligatory role of ROCK in PGE(2)-induced migratory response. Furthermore, U0126, an inhibitor of MAPK kinases MEK1 and MEK2, abrogated PGE(2)-induced migration of trophoblasts, and PGE(2) or the other two EP agonists stimulated ERK1/2 activation in trophoblasts, which was not abrogated by pretreatment with C3 transferase, indicating that ERK signaling pathway is an efficient alternate pathway for RhoA in PGE(2)-mediated migration of trophoblasts. These results suggest that ROCK and ERK1/2 play more important roles than RhoA in PGE(2)-mediated migration stimulation of first-trimester trophoblasts.