Expression of gap junctional connexins 26, 32 and 43 in bovine placentomes during pregnancy

C D Pfarrer, C Heeb, R Leiser
Placenta 2006, 27 (1): 79-86
Gap junctional connexins (Cx) are induced in the endometrium during implantation in rodents, the human receptive window, and in the decidua Cx26 and Cx43 expression increases in response to trophoblast invasion. In contrast, this gap junctional response and decidualization is absent in non-invasive epitheliochorial placentae of pigs and horses. Bovine (syn)epitheliochorial placentation represents an intermediate type of trophoblast invasion, since it is characterized by the continuous migration and fusion of trophoblast giant cells (TGC) with uterine epithelial cells. Therefore the objective of the present study was to investigate the expression of Cx26, Cx32, and Cx43 in placental tissues during bovine pregnancy, to determine if Cx expression patterns correlate with the depth of trophoblast invasion. Cx26, Cx32, and Cx43 proteins were detected by immunohistochemistry and corresponding specific mRNAs were shown by RT-PCR and localized in tissue sections by in situ hybridization. Cx26 protein was detected at the feto-maternal contact interface and as cytoplasmic staining in TGC. Cx26 mRNA was located in maternal epithelium and in TGC. Cx32 protein expression was observed in the maternal epithelium exclusively on the tips of maternal septa, whereas Cx32 mRNA was detected in all maternal epithelial cells and single TGC. Cx43 protein and mRNA were coexpressed in TGC. Cx43 protein was present in maternal septal stroma and to a lesser extent in chorionic villous mesenchyme, while Cx43 mRNA was associated with the vasculature. In the course of gestation, expression of Cx26, Cx32, and Cx43 did not change. In conclusion, the intermediate invasive status of bovine trophoblast is supported by the fact that TGC coexpress Cx26, Cx32, and Cx43, which may be important for trophoblast migration (invasion), and fusion with maternal epithelial cells. Cx32 could be involved in the control of invasion.

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