Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small single-stranded RNA molecules working as post-transcriptional modulators of gene expression. Trophoblast cells are a heterogenous group of fetal cells forming the feto-maternal interface and displaying a wide spectrum of functions. The regulation of their behavior may partly underly the control through miRNAs. Therefore, we aimed to compare the miRNA profile of primary first and third trimester trophoblast cells with that of different trophoblastic cell lines.
Material and methods: Total RNA was obtained from isolated cytotrophoblast cells from healthy term and first trimester placentae and the cell lines HTR-8/SVneo (immortalized trophoblast cells), JEG-3 (choriocarcinoma), ACH-3P and AC1-M59, which are choriocarcinoma cells fused with first and third trimester trophoblast cells, respectively. The expression level of 762 different miRNAs was quantitatively analyzed by using a TaqMan Human MicroRNA Array. For testing the reproducibility of the array technique, the expression of 9 selected miRNAs has been re-analyzed by individual qPCR.
Results: The analyzed cell types share many similar patterns of miRNAs, but are significantly distinct in the expression of three miRNA clusters: chromosome 19 miRNA cluster (C19MC; containing 54 different miRNAs), C14MC (34 miRNAs) and a minor cluster (miRNA-371 to miRNA-373 cluster), also located on chromosome 19. Expression of miRNAs within C19MC increases significantly from first to third trimester trophoblast while that of C14MC members decreases. MiRNAs within the miR-371-3 cluster augment slightly. C19MC and the miR-371-3 cluster are not expressed by HTR-8/SVneo cells whilst C14MC is almost not detectable in the choriocarcinoma-derived cell lines complete array data available at NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus accession number GSE32346: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/query/acc.cgi?acc=GSE32346). Beside the miRNAs within the mentioned clusters, further 27 miRNAs are differentially expressed (>100 fold) between term and first trimester trophoblast cells. The placenta-specific miRNAs miR-141 and miR-21 as well as let-7g are expressed in all tested cells with the highest expression in primary trophoblast cells.
Conclusion: Primary first trimester and term trophoblast cells and trophoblastic cell lines display major differences in their miRNA fingerprints which may be involved in their different behavior and characteristics.
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