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Immunity genes have repeatedly experienced natural selection during mammalian evolution. Galectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that regulate diverse immune responses, including maternal-fetal immune tolerance in placental pregnancy. Seven human galectins, four conserved across vertebrates and three specific to primates, are involved in placental development. To comprehensively study the molecular evolution of these galectins, both across mammals and within humans, we conducted a series of between- and within-species evolutionary analyses. By examining patterns of sequence evolution between species, we found that primate-specific galectins showed uniformly high substitution rates, whereas two of the four other galectins experienced accelerated evolution in primates. By examining human population genomic variation, we found that galectin genes and variants, including variants previously linked to immune diseases, showed signatures of recent positive selection in specific human populations. By examining one nonsynonymous variant in Galectin-8 previously associated with autoimmune diseases, we further discovered that it is tightly linked to three other nonsynonymous variants; surprisingly, the global frequency of this four-variant haplotype is ∼50%. To begin understanding the impact of this major haplotype on Galectin-8 protein structure, we modeled its 3D protein structure and found that it differed substantially from the reference protein structure. These results suggest that placentally expressed galectins experienced both ancient and more recent selection in a lineage- and population-specific manner. Furthermore, our discovery that the major Galectin-8 haplotype is structurally distinct from and more commonly found than the reference haplotype illustrates the significance of understanding the evolutionary processes that sculpted variants associated with human genetic disease.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Subversion of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) function is a feature shared by multiple intracellular bacteria and viruses, and in many cases this disruption of cellular function activates pathways of the unfolded protein response (UPR). In the case of infection with , the etiologic agent of brucellosis, the unfolded protein response in the infected placenta contributes to placentitis and abortion, leading to pathogen transmission. Here we show that infection of pregnant mice led to death of infected placental trophoblasts in a manner that depended on the VirB type IV secretion system (T4SS) and its effector VceC. The trophoblast death program required the ER stress-induced transcription factor CHOP. While NOD1/NOD2 expression in macrophages contributed to ER stress-induced inflammation, these receptors did not play a role in trophoblast death. Both placentitis and abortion were independent of apoptosis-associated Speck-like protein containing a caspase activation and recruitment domain (ASC). These studies show that uses its T4SS to induce cell-type-specific responses to ER stress in trophoblasts that trigger placental inflammation and abortion. Our results suggest further that in the T4SS and its effectors are under selection as bacterial transmission factors. infects the placenta of pregnant cows, where it replicates to high levels and triggers abortion of the calf. The aborted material is highly infectious and transmits infection to both cows and humans, but very little is known about how causes abortion. By studying this infection in pregnant mice, we discovered that kills trophoblasts, which are important cells for maintaining pregnancy. This killing required an injected bacterial protein (VceC) that triggered an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response in the trophoblast. By inhibiting ER stress or infecting mice that lack CHOP, a protein induced by ER stress, we could prevent death of trophoblasts, reduce inflammation, and increase the viability of the pups. Our results suggest that injects VceC into placental trophoblasts to promote its transmission by abortion.
Copyright © 2019 Byndloss et al.
INTRODUCTION - Metabolic stress (e.g., gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and obesity) and infections are common during pregnancy, impacting fetal development and the health of offspring. Such antenatal stresses can differentially impact male and female offspring. We sought to determine how metabolic stress and maternal immune activation (MIA), either alone or in combination, alters inflammatory gene expression within the placenta and whether the effects exhibited sexual dimorphism.
METHODS - Female C57BL/6 J mice were fed a normal diet or a high fat diet for 6 weeks prior to mating, with the latter diet inducing a GDM phenotype during pregnancy. Dams within each diet group at gestational day (GD) 12.5 received either an intraperitoneal injection of the viral mimic, polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)) or saline. Three hours post injection; placentae were collected and analyzed for changes in the expression of 248 unique immune genes.
RESULTS - Placental immune gene expression was significantly altered by GDM, MIA and the combination of the two (GDM+MIA). mRNA expression was generally lower in placentae of mice exposed to GDM alone compared with the other experimental groups, while mice exposed to MIA exhibited the highest transcript levels. Notably, fetal/placental sex influenced the responses of many immune genes to both metabolic and inflammatory stress.
DISCUSSION - GDM and MIA provoke inflammatory responses within the placenta and such effects exhibit sexual dimorphism. The combination of these stressors impacts the placenta differently than either condition alone. These findings may help explain sexual dimorphism observed in adverse pregnancy outcomes in human offspring exposed to similar stressors.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Placental dysfunction is implicated in many pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia and preterm birth (PTB). While both these syndromes are influenced by environmental risk factors, they also have a substantial genetic component that is not well understood. Precisely controlled gene expression during development is crucial to proper placental function and often mediated through gene regulatory enhancers. However, we lack accurate maps of placental enhancer activity due to the challenges of assaying the placenta and the difficulty of comprehensively identifying enhancers. To address the gap in our knowledge of gene regulatory elements in the placenta, we used a two-step machine learning pipeline to synthesize existing functional genomics studies, transcription factor (TF) binding patterns, and evolutionary information to predict placental enhancers. The trained classifiers accurately distinguish enhancers from the genomic background and placental enhancers from enhancers active in other tissues. Genomic features collected from tissues and cell lines involved in pregnancy are the most predictive of placental regulatory activity. Applying the classifiers genome-wide enabled us to create a map of 33,010 predicted placental enhancers, including 4,562 high-confidence enhancer predictions. The genome-wide placental enhancers are significantly enriched nearby genes associated with placental development and birth disorders and for SNPs associated with gestational age. These genome-wide predicted placental enhancers provide candidate regions for further testing in vitro, will assist in guiding future studies of genetic associations with pregnancy phenotypes, and aid interpretation of potential mechanisms of action for variants found through genetic studies.
Bacterial DNA has been reported in the placenta and amniotic fluid by several independent groups of investigators. However, it's taxonomic overlap with fetal and maternal bacterial DNA in different sites has been poorly characterized. Here, we determined the presence of bacterial DNA in the intestines and placentas of fetal mice at gestational day 17 (n = 13). These were compared to newborn intestines (n = 15), maternal sites (mouth, n = 6; vagina, n = 6; colon, n = 7; feces, n = 8), and negative controls to rule out contamination. The V4 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene indicated a pattern of bacterial DNA in fetal intestine similar to placenta but with higher phylogenetic diversity than placenta or newborn intestine. Firmicutes were the most frequently assignable phylum. SourceTracker analysis suggested the placenta as the most commonly identifiable origin for fetal bacterial DNA, but also over 75% of fetal gut genera overlapped with maternal oral and vaginal taxa but not with maternal or newborn feces. These data provide evidence for the presence of bacterial DNA in the mouse fetus.
PROBLEM - Premature birth complicates 10%-12% of deliveries. Infection and inflammation are the most common etiologies and are associated with increased offspring morbidity and mortality. We hypothesize that lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced maternal inflammation causes direct placenta injury and subsequent injury to the fetal intestine.
METHOD OF STUDY - Pregnant C57Bl6 mice were injected intraperitoneally on day 15.5 with 100 μg/kg LPS or saline. Maternal serum, amniotic fluid, placental samples, and ileal samples of offspring were obtained assessed for inflammation and/or injury. Maternal placental ultrasounds were performed. Placental DNA was isolated for microbiome analysis.
RESULTS - Maternal injection with LPS caused elevated IL-1β, IL-10, IL-6, KC-GRO, and TNF. Placental tissue showed increased IL-1β, IL-6, and KC-GRO and decreased IL-10, but no changes were observed in amniotic fluid. Placental histology demonstrated LPS-induced increases in mineralization and necrosis, but no difference in placental blood flow. Most placentas had no detectable microbiome. Exposure to maternal LPS induced significant injury to the ilea of the offspring.
CONCLUSION - Lipopolysaccharide causes a maternal inflammatory response that is mirrored in the placenta. Placental histology demonstrates structural changes; however, placental blood flow is preserved. LPS also induces an indirect intestinal injury in the offspring that lasts beyond the neonatal period.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Healthy pregnancy depends on proper placentation-including proliferation, differentiation, and invasion of trophoblast cells-which, if impaired, causes placental ischemia resulting in intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia. Mechanisms regulating trophoblast invasion, however, are unknown. We report that reduction of ( alters intracellular trafficking and significantly impairs invasion in a model of human extravillous trophoblasts. Furthermore, global loss of in mice recapitulates maternal and fetal phenotypes of placental insufficiency. dams have reduced spiral artery numbers and late gestational hypertension with resolution following delivery. fetuses are growth restricted and demonstrate changes in umbilical artery Doppler consistent with poor placental perfusion and fetal distress. Loss of increases fetal vascular density in the placenta and dysregulates trophoblast expression of angiogenic factors. Our data support a critical regulatory role for in trophoblast invasion-a necessary process for placentation-representing a possible future target for improving placentation and fetal outcomes.
Many developmental functions in marsupials and eutherian mammals are accomplished by different tissues, but similar genes.
Evidence has been presented for auto-induced human cytochrome P450 3A enzyme involvement in the teratogenicity and clinical outcome of thalidomide due to oxidation to 5-hydroxythalidomide and subsequent metabolic activation in livers. In this study, more relevant human placenta preparations and placental BeWo cells showed low but detectable P450 3A4/5 mRNA expression and drug oxidation activities. Human placental microsomal fractions from three subjects showed detectable midazolam 1´- and 4-hydroxylation and thalidomide 5-hydroxylation activities. Human placental BeWo cells, cultured in the recommended media, also indicated detectable midazolam 1´- and 4-hydroxylation and thalidomide 5-hydroxylation activities. To reduce any masking effects by endogenous hormones used in the recommended media, induction of P450 3A4/5 mRNA and oxidation activities were measured in placental BeWo cells cultured with a modified medium containing 5% charcoal-stripped fetal bovine serum. Thalidomide significantly induced P450 3A4/5, 2B6, and pregnane X receptor (PXR) mRNA levels 2 to 3-fold, but rifampicin only enhanced P450 3A5 and PXR mRNA under the modified media conditions. Under these modified conditions, thalidomide also significantly induced midazolam 1´-hydroxylation and thalidomide 5-hydroxylaion activities 3-fold but not bupropion hydroxylation activity. Taken together, activation of thalidomide to 5-hydroxythalidomide with autoinduction of P450 3A enzymes in human placentas, as well as livers, is suggested in vivo.
Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging mosquito-transmitted flavivirus that can cause severe disease, including congenital birth defects during pregnancy. To develop candidate therapeutic agents against ZIKV, we isolated a panel of human monoclonal antibodies from subjects that were previously infected with ZIKV. We show that a subset of antibodies recognize diverse epitopes on the envelope (E) protein and exhibit potent neutralizing activity. One of the most inhibitory antibodies, ZIKV-117, broadly neutralized infection of ZIKV strains corresponding to African and Asian-American lineages. Epitope mapping studies revealed that ZIKV-117 recognized a unique quaternary epitope on the E protein dimer-dimer interface. We evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of ZIKV-117 in pregnant and non-pregnant mice. Monoclonal antibody treatment markedly reduced tissue pathology, placental and fetal infection, and mortality in mice. Thus, neutralizing human antibodies can protect against maternal-fetal transmission, infection and disease, and reveal important determinants for structure-based rational vaccine design efforts.