Distinct lipid rafts in subdomains from human placental apical syncytiotrophoblast membranes

J Membr Biol. 2008 Jul-Aug;224(1-3):21-31. doi: 10.1007/s00232-008-9125-5. Epub 2008 Sep 20.


We report on the characteristics of raft domains in the apical membrane from human placental syncytiotrophoblast (hSTB), an epithelium responsible for maternal-fetal exchange. Previously, we described two isolated fractions of the hSTB apical membrane: a classical microvillous membrane (MVM) and a light microvillous membrane (LMVM). Detergent-resistant microdomains (DRMs) from MVM and LMVM were prepared with Triton X-100 followed by flotation in a sucrose gradient and tested by Western and dot blot with raft markers (placental alkaline phosphatase, lipid ganglioside, annexin 2) and transferrin receptor as a nonraft marker. DRMs from both fractions showed a consistent peak for these markers, except that the DRMs from MVM had no annexin 2 mark. Cholesterol depletion modified the segregation in both groups of DRMs. Our results show two distinguishable lipid raft subsets from MVM and LMVM. Additionally, we found significant differences between MVM and LMVM in cholesterol content and in expression of cytoskeletal proteins. MVM is enriched in ezrin and beta-actin; in contrast, cholesterol and cytokeratin-7 are more abundant in LMVM. These differences may explain the distinct properties of the lipid raft subtypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Detergents / chemistry
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Membrane Microdomains / chemistry*
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism
  • Microvilli / metabolism
  • Placenta / cytology
  • Pregnancy
  • Trophoblasts / cytology
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism*


  • Detergents