Deciphering transcriptional regulation in human embryonic stem cells specified towards a trophoblast fate

Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 8;7(1):17257. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-17614-5.


Differentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESC) continue to provide a model for studying early trophoblast cells (TB), but many questions have been raised regarding their true identity. Therefore, we carried out a global and unbiased analysis on previously published transcriptomic profiles for hESC differentiated to TB by means of bone morphogenetic protein-4 and inhibitors of activin A and fibroblast growth factor-2 signaling (BAP treatment). Our results confirm that BAP treated hESC (ESCd) lack a mesoderm signature and are a subtype of placental cells unlike those present at term. ESCd display a high level of expression of genes implicated in migration and invasion compared to commonly used, immortalized TB cell lines and primary cells from term placenta. Co-expression network analysis also identified gene modules involved in cell migration and adhesion, processes that are likely critical during the beginning stages of placentation. Finally, protein-protein interaction analysis predicted several additional genes that may play important roles in early stages of placental development. Together, our analyses provide novel insights into the transcriptional programs that are active in ESCd.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Trophoblasts / cytology*