Function of caspase-14 in trophoblast differentiation
Journal - Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology : RB&E
BackgroundWithin the human placenta, the cytotrophoblast consists of a proliferative pool of progenitor cells which differentiate to replenish the overlying continuous, multi-nucleated syncytiotrophoblast, which forms the barrier between the maternal and fetal tissues. Disruption to trophoblast differentiation and function may result in impaired fetal development and preeclampsia. Caspase-14 expression is limited to barrier forming tissues. It promotes keratinocyte differentiation by cleaving profilaggrin to stabilise keratin intermediate filaments, and indirectly providing hydration and UV protection. However its role in the trophoblast remains unexplored.MethodsUsing RNA Interference the reaction of control and differentiating trophoblastic BeWo cells to suppressed caspase-14 was examined for genes pertaining to hormonal, cell cycle and cytoskeletal pathways.ResultsTranscription of hCG, KLF4 and cytokeratin-18 were increased following caspase-14 suppression suggesting a role for caspase-14 in inhibiting their pathways. Furthermore, hCG, KLF4 and cytokeratin-18 protein levels were disrupted.ConclusionSince expression of these molecules is normally increased with trophoblast differentiation, our results imply that caspase-14 inhibits trophoblast differentiation. This is the first functional study of this unusual member of the caspase family in the trophoblast, where it has a different function than in the epidermis. This knowledge of the molecular underpinnings of trophoblast differentiation may instruct future therapies of trophoblast disease.
SFRP-4 abrogates Wnt-3a-induced ß-catenin and Akt/PKB signalling and reverses a Wnt-3a-imposed inhibition of in vitro mammary differentiation
Journal - Journal of Molecular Signaling
BackgroundConserved Wnt ligands are critical for signalling during development; however, various factors modulate their activity. Among these factors are the Secreted Frizzled-Related Proteins (SFRP). We previously isolated the SFRP-4 gene from an involuting rat mammary gland and later showed that transgenic mice inappropriately expressing SFRP-4 during lactation exhibited a high level of apoptosis with reduced survival of progeny.ResultsIn order to address the questions related to the mechanism of Wnt signalling and its inhibition by SFRP-4 which we report here, we employed partially-purified Wnt-3a in a co-culture model system. Ectopic expression of SFRP-4 was accomplished by infection with a pBabepuro construct. The co-cultures comprised Line 31E mouse mammary secretory epithelial cells and Line 30F, undifferentiated, fibroblast-like mouse mammary cells. In vitro differentiation of such co-cultures can be demonstrated by induction of the ß-casein gene in response to lactogenic hormones.We show here that treatment of cells with partially-purified Wnt-3a initiates Dvl-3, Akt/PKB and GSK-3ß hyperphosphorylation and ß-catenin activation. Furthermore, while up-regulating the cyclin D1 and connexin-43 genes and elevating transepithelial resistance of Line 31E cell monolayers, Wnt-3a treatment abrogates differentiation of co-cultures in response to the lactogenic hormones prolactin, insulin and glucocorticoid. Cells which express SFRP-4, however, are largely unaffected by Wnt-3a stimulation. Since a physical association between Wnt-3a and SFRP-4 could be demonstrated with immunoprecipitation/Western blotting experiments, this interaction, presumably owing to the Frizzled homology region typical of all SFRPs, explains the refractory response to Wnt-3a which was observed.ConclusionThis study demonstrates that Wnt-3a treatment activates the Wnt signalling pathway and interferes with in vitro differentiation of mammary co-cultures to ß-casein production in response to lactogenic hormones. Similarly, in another measure of differentiation, following Wnt-3a treatment mammary epithelial cells could be shown to up-regulate the cyclin D1 and connexin-43 genes while phenotypically they show increased transepithelial resistance across the cell monolayer. All these behavioural changes can be blocked in mammary epithelial cells expressing SFRP-4. Thus, our data illustrate in an in vitro model a mechanism by which SFRP-4 can modulate a differentiation response to Wnt-3a.
The expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, its receptors and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein during corpus luteum regression
Journal - Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology : RB&E
BackgroundCorpus luteum (CL) regression is known to occur as two parts; functional regression when steroidogenesis declines and structural regression when apoptosis is induced. Previous studies suggest this process occurs by the production of luteolytic factors, such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).MethodsWe examined TNF-alpha, TNF-alpha receptors (TNFR1 and 2) and steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein expression during CL regression in albino Wistar rats. CL from Days 16 and 22 of pregnancy and Day 3 post-partum were examined, in addition CL from Day 16 of pregnancy were cultured in vitro to induce apoptosis. mRNA was quantitated by kinetic RT-PCR and protein expression examined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analyses.ResultsTNF-alpha mRNA increased on Day 3 post-partum. TNFR were immunolocalized to luteal cells, and an increase in TNFR2 mRNA observed on Day 3 post-partum whilst no change was detected in TNFR1 mRNA relative to Day 16. StAR protein decreased on Day 3 post-partum and following trophic withdrawal but no change was observed following exogenous TNF-alpha treatment. StAR mRNA decreased on Day 3 post-partum; however, it increased following trophic withdrawal and TNF-alpha treatment in vitro.ConclusionThese results demonstrate the existence of TNFR1 and TNFR2 in rat CL and suggest the involvement of TNF-alpha in rat CL regression following parturition. Furthermore, decreased StAR expression over the same time points was consistent with the functional regression of the CL.