Controlling Trophoblast Cell Fusion in the Human Placenta-Transcriptional Regulation of Suppressyn, an Endogenous Inhibitor of Syncytin-1.

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Cell fusion in the placenta is tightly regulated. Suppressyn is a human placental endogenous retroviral protein that inhibits the profusogenic activities of another well-described endogenous retroviral protein, syncytin-1. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying suppressyn's placenta-specific expression. We identified the promoter region and a novel enhancer region for the gene encoding suppressyn, ERVH48-1, and examined their regulation via DNA methylation and their responses to changes in the oxygen concentration. Like other endogenous retroviral genes, the ERVH48-1 promoter sequence is found within a characteristic retroviral 5' LTR sequence. The novel enhancer sequence we describe here is downstream of this LTR sequence (designated EIEs: ERV internal enhancer sequence) and governs placental expression. The placenta-specific expression of ERVH48-1 is tightly controlled by DNA methylation and further regulated by oxygen concentration-dependent, hypoxia-induced transcription factors (HIF1α and HIF2α). Our findings highlight the involvement of (1) tissue specificity through DNA methylation, (2) expression specificity through placenta-specific enhancer regions, and (3) the regulation of suppressyn expression in differing oxygen conditions by HIF1α and HIF2α. We suggest that these regulatory mechanisms are central to normal and abnormal placental development, including the development of disorders of pregnancy involving altered oxygenation, such as preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and fetal growth restriction.





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Sugimoto, Jun, Danny J Schust, Makiko Sugimoto, Yoshihiro Jinno and Yoshiki Kudo (2023). Controlling Trophoblast Cell Fusion in the Human Placenta-Transcriptional Regulation of Suppressyn, an Endogenous Inhibitor of Syncytin-1. Biomolecules, 13(11). p. 1627. 10.3390/biom13111627 Retrieved from

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Danny J Schust

Edwin Crowell Hamblen Distinguished Professor of Reproductive Biology and Family Planning

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