The FOS transcription factor family differentially controls trophoblast migration and invasion

J Biol Chem. 2014 Feb 21;289(8):5025-39. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.523746. Epub 2013 Dec 30.


Extravillous trophoblast invasion is a fundamental component of human placentation. Invading trophoblast cells promote blood flow to the conceptus by actively remodeling the uterine vasculature. The extent of trophoblast invasion is tightly regulated; aberrant invasion is linked with several obstetrical complications. However, the transcriptional networks responsible for controlling the extent of trophoblast invasion are not well defined. Previous studies have identified high levels of FOS (FOS, FOSB, FOS-like (FOSL) 1, and FOSL2) proteins in extravillous trophoblast cells. These proteins form part of the activating protein-1 (AP-1) transcription factor complex and are implicated in regulating gene networks controlling cellular invasion in diverse biological systems. Therefore, we hypothesized that FOS family proteins play a role in regulating trophoblast invasion. We assessed expression of FOS family proteins in trophoblast cell lines and human placentae at different gestational ages. FOS, FOSB, and FOSL1 proteins were robustly increased in trophoblast cells subject to wound-based migration assays as well as Matrigel-based invasion assays. FOS knockdown resulted in cessation of proliferation and an induction of migration and invasion concomitant with robust expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 1, MMP3, and MMP10. Conversely, FOSL1 knockdown abrogated trophoblast migration and invasion and inhibited the production of MMP1, MMP3, and MMP10. In human placenta, FOS was expressed in proximal anchoring villi in conjunction with phospho-ERK. FOSL1 was temporally expressed only in the distal-most extravillous trophoblast cells, which represent a migratory cell population. Therefore, FOS and FOSL1 exert opposing effects on trophoblast invasion.

Keywords: Embryo Implantation; Placenta; Pregnancy; Reproduction; Trophoblast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement* / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Collagen / pharmacology
  • Drug Combinations
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Laminin / pharmacology
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism
  • Multigene Family*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Proteoglycans / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Trophoblasts / cytology*
  • Trophoblasts / drug effects
  • Trophoblasts / enzymology
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism*


  • Drug Combinations
  • Laminin
  • Proteoglycans
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • matrigel
  • Collagen
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases