Isolation and partial characterization of the basal cell membrane of human placental trophoblast

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1983 Sep 21;734(1):91-8. doi: 10.1016/0005-2736(83)90079-2.


The function of the syncytiotrophoblast in maternal-fetal exchange is related to the properties of its microvillous (maternal-facing) and basal (fetal-facing) plasma membranes. We have previously reported the properties of the microvillous membrane (Smith, C.H., Nelson, D.M., King, B.F., Donohue, T.M., Ruzycki, S.M. and Kelley, L.K. (1977) Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 128, 190-196), and now describe the purification and partial characterization of the basal plasma membrane. Sonication and incubation with EDTA were used to isolate selectively the basal cell membrane. These steps were followed by a more conventional purification by centrifugation. The trophoblast was disrupted and its microvillous membrane and cytoplasmic contents were removed by sonication. The exposed basal cell membrane was selectively released from the underlying basal lamina by sonication in the presence of EDTA and further purified by discontinuous Ficoll gradient centrifugation. The material at the 4-10% Ficoll interface consisted of smooth membrane vesicles with internal microfilaments. It was 45-fold enriched in dihydroalprenolol binding activity and 11-fold enriched in ouabain binding activity. Other enzymatic analyses, including alkaline phosphatase, cytochrome-c oxidase, cytochrome-c reductase and galactosyl transferase indicated low contamination by other organelles. This procedure yields a preparation of relatively high purity which should be suitable for investigation of transport and other functions of the basal surface membrane of trophoblast. In principle, the purification procedures used may be applicable to other transporting epithelia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / analysis
  • Cell Fractionation
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Dihydroalprenolol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Ouabain / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Sonication
  • Trophoblasts / ultrastructure*


  • Ouabain
  • Dihydroalprenolol
  • Alkaline Phosphatase