Transcription of the H19 gene in differentiating cytotrophoblasts from human placenta.
Rachmilewitz J., Gileadi O., Eldar-Geva T., Schneider T., de-Groot N., Hochberg A.
Placental differentiation is closely correlated with the appearance of specific proteins, yet factors regulating cytotrophoblast differentiation are unknown. One strategy employed to search for such factors makes use of differential screening of cDNA libraries. For this purpose, cytotrophoblasts were isolated from human term placentae and cultured for 24 and 120 hr. cDNA libraries were constructed from the cell's RNA, and differential screening resulted in the isolation of three identical clones highly expressed after 120 hr. A DNA sequencing of 139 bp at the 3' end of these clones and a search of the data bank revealed that the sequence was identical to the parallel domain in the human H19 gene. This highly conserved gene is unusual in that it may not encode a protein. In the mouse, its RNA was shown to accumulate to high levels in embryonic tissues of endodermal and mesodermal origin. Our present findings imply that, in humans, the H19 gene is efficiently expressed in placental tissue and differentiated cytotrophoblasts, which are of ectodermal origin. RNA blot hybridization revealed a unique bimodal pattern of expression for the H19 gene in cultured cytotrophoblasts. The modulation in expression of H19 during cytotrophoblast growth was not due to the increase in the number of multinuclear cells. Size fractionation of cytotrophoblasts by centrifugal elutriation revealed that H19 expression is correlated with the stage of cell differentiation. We therefore propose that H19 transcripts might play a regulatory role in the process of cytotrophoblast differentiation.