Trophoblast fusion

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2011;713:81-95. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-0763-4_6.

Abstract

The villous trophoblast of the human placenta is the epithelial cover of the fetal chorionic villi floating in maternal blood. This epithelial cover is organized in two distinct layers, the multinucleated syncytiotrophoblast directly facing maternal blood and a second layer of mononucleated cytotrophoblasts. During pregnancy single cytotrophoblasts continuously fuse with the overlying syncytiotrophoblast to preserve this end-differentiated layer until delivery. Syncytial fusion continuously supplies the syncytiotrophoblast with compounds of fusing cytotrophoblasts such as proteins, nucleic acids and lipids as well as organelles. At the same time the input of cytotrophoblastic components is counterbalanced by a continuous release of apoptotic material from the syncytiotrophoblast into maternal blood. Fusion is an essential step in maintaining the syncytiotrophoblast. Trophoblast fusion was shown to be dependant on and regulated by multiple factors such as fusion proteins, proteases and cytoskeletal proteins as well as cytokines, hormones and transcription factors. In this chapter we focus on factors that may be involved in the fusion process of trophoblast directly or that may prepare the cytotrophoblast to fuse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Giant Cells / cytology
  • Giant Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Trophoblasts / cytology
  • Trophoblasts / physiology*

Substances

  • Caspases