Activin Regulates Self-renewal and Differentiation of Trophoblast Stem Cells by Down-regulating the X Chromosome Gene Bcor

Gaoyang Zhu, Teng Fei, Zhongwei Li, Xiaohua Yan, Ye-Guang Chen
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2015 September 4, 290 (36): 22019-29
The development of a functional placenta is largely dependent upon proper proliferation and differentiation of trophoblast stem cells (TSCs). Activin signaling has long been regarded to play important roles during this process, but the exact mechanism is largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the X chromosome gene BCL-6 corepressor (Bcor) is a critical downstream effector of activin to fine-tune mouse TSC fate decision. Bcor was specifically down-regulated by activin A in TSCs in a dose-dependent manner, and immediately up-regulated upon TSC differentiation. Knockdown of Bcor partially compensated for the absence of activin A in maintaining the self-renewal of TSCs together with FGF4, while promoting syncytiotrophoblast differentiation in the absence of FGF4. Moreover, the impaired trophoblast giant cell and spongiotrophoblast differentiation upon Bcor knockdown also resembled the function of activin. Reporter analysis showed that BCOR inhibited the expression of the key trophoblast regulator genes Eomes and Cebpa by binding to their promoter regions. Our findings provide us with a better understanding of placental development and placenta-related diseases.

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