Regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition by homeobox gene DLX4 in JEG-3 trophoblast cells: a role in preeclampsia

Reprod Sci. 2011 Nov;18(11):1138-45. doi: 10.1177/1933719111408112. Epub 2011 May 20.


The pathogenesis of preeclampsia is unclear but is thought to be related to shallow trophoblast invasion. An invasive phenotype is acquired by trophoblasts through the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We proposed that EMT in trophoblasts is deregulated in preeclampsia. The homeobox gene DLX4 plays an important role in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during embryonic and placental development. To elucidate the role of DLX4 in trophoblast EMT and preeclampsia, we investigated the expression of DLX4 in preeclampsia-affected placentas and the effect of DLX4 on EMT in trophoblast-derived JEG-3 cells. DLX4 expression was downregulated in preeclampsia-affected placentas and hypoxic JEG-3 cells. Knockdown of DLX4 by RNA interference (RNAi) inhibited the motility and invasion ability of JEG-3 cells, decreased the expression of E-cadherin, and upregulated the expression of the E-cadherin repressor Snail. Our findings suggest that decreased expression of DLX4 leads to the pathogenesis of preeclampsia by inhibiting EMT in trophoblasts and provides new insight into the pathophysiological mechanism of preeclampsia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Down-Regulation
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics*
  • Female
  • Homeodomain Proteins / analysis
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage
  • Pre-Eclampsia / etiology*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcription Factors / analysis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transfection
  • Trophoblasts / chemistry
  • Trophoblasts / cytology*


  • Cadherins
  • DLX4 protein, human
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Transcription Factors
  • Oxygen