Intracellular mRNA levels are not always proportional to their respective protein levels, especially in the placenta. This discrepancy may be attributed to various factors including post-transcriptional regulation, such as mRNA methylation (N6-methyladenosine: m6A). Here, we conducted a comprehensive m6A analysis of human placental tissue from neonates with various birth weights to clarify the involvement of m6A in placental biology. The augmented m6A levels at the 5'-untranslated region (UTR) in mRNAs of small-for-date placenta samples were dominant compared to reduction of m6A levels, whereas a decrease in m6A in the vicinity of stop codons was common in heavy-for-date placenta samples. Notably, most of these genes showed similar expression levels between the different birth weight categories. In particular, preeclampsia placenta samples showed consistently upregulated SMPD1 protein levels and increased m6A at 5'-UTR but did not show increased mRNA levels. Mutagenesis of adenosines at 5'-UTR of SMPD1 mRNAs actually decreased protein levels in luciferase assay. Collectively, our findings suggest that m6A both at the 5'-UTR and in the vicinity of stop codon in placental mRNA may play important roles in fetal growth and disease.
Keywords: 6‐methyladenosine; epitranscriptome; fetal growth; post‐transcriptional regulation; preeclampsia.
© 2019 The Authors. The FASEB Journal published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.