Gene expression of four targets in situ of the first trimester maternal-fetoplacental interface

Tissue Cell. 2020 Jun;64:101313. doi: 10.1016/j.tice.2019.101313. Epub 2019 Nov 6.


EPAS1, FSTL3, IGFBP1, and SEMA3C were localized to determine whether expression is decidual, trophoblastic, or both in the human first trimester maternal-fetoplacental interface. Identified on global genome-wide microarray analysis of chorionic villus sampling tissues in preclinical preeclampsia, these targets were predicted to interact by bioinformatics pathways analysis. In situ hybridization (ISH) with mRNA of each gene was conducted in 10 cases of archived first trimester termination tissues. Randomly selected areas of cells by tissue type yielded the relative proportion of cells expressing mRNA signal in decidual and fetoplacental sites. Data were analyzed using Shapiro-Wilk and Kruskal-Wallis tests (p ≤ .05). The average gestational age was 10.2 weeks. Expression signal for each gene differed by cell type (p < .001). FSTL3 expression was 17 times higher in cells of anchoring columns than areas of decidua without ISH signal. SEMA3C was three times higher in cells of anchoring columns than in decidua. EPAS1 was 1.31 times higher in cells of anchoring columns than in areas of decidua. IGFBP1 was 20 times higher in some decidua versus cells in anchoring columns or villous trophoblast. While all targets were expressed by both maternal and fetoplacental cells, our localizations identified which compartment had relatively higher expression of each gene.

Keywords: EPAS1; FSTL3; Functional network; IGFBP1; SEMA3C.

MeSH terms

  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Chorionic Villi / metabolism
  • Computational Biology
  • Decidua / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follistatin-Related Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1 / metabolism*
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pre-Eclampsia / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First / metabolism*
  • RNA-Seq
  • Semaphorins / metabolism*
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Follistatin-Related Proteins
  • Fstl3 protein, human
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Sema3C protein, human
  • Semaphorins
  • endothelial PAS domain-containing protein 1