O2 enhancement of human trophoblast differentiation and hCYP19 (aromatase) gene expression are mediated by proteasomal degradation of USF1 and USF2

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Abstract

When cultured in 20% O2, human cytotrophoblasts fuse to form the syncytiotrophoblast with marked induction of hCYP19 (aromatase) gene expression. When cultured in 2% O2, cytotrophoblast fusion and induced hCYP19 expression are prevented. These effects of hypoxia are mediated by increased expression of mammalian achaete/scute homologue-2 (Mash-2), which increases levels of upstream stimulatory factors 1 and 2 (USF1/2) and their binding as heterodimers to E-boxes surrounding the hCYP19 promoter. In studies to define mechanisms for O2 regulation of syncytiotrophoblast differentiation, we found that hypoxia and overexpression of Mash-2 markedly increased cyclin B1 levels in cultured trophoblasts and the proportion of cells at the G2/M transition. Unlike USF proteins, USF1/2 mRNA levels are unaffected by O2 tension. To determine whether increased O 2 might enhance proteasomal degradation of USF1/2, human trophoblasts were cultured in 2% or 20% O2 with or without proteasome inhibitors. In cells cultured in 20% O2, proteasome inhibitors increased USF1/2 protein levels and blocked spontaneous induction of hCYP19 expression, cell fusion, and differentiation. Like hypoxia, inhibitory effects of proteasome inhibitors on hCYP19 expression were mediated by increased binding of USF1/2 to the E-boxes. In human trophoblast cells cultured in 20% O2, increased polyubiquitylation of USF1/2 proteins was observed. Thus, early in gestation when the placenta is relatively hypoxic, increased USF1/2 may block trophoblast differentiation and hCYP19 gene expression. In the second trimester, increased O2 tension promotes proteasomal degradation of USF1/2, resulting in syncytiotrophoblast differentiation and induction of hCYP19 expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8824-8833
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Volume25
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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