Endocrine gland-derived vascular endothelial growth factor (EG-VEGF) and its receptor genes (PROKR1 (PKR1) and PROKR2 (PKR2)) play an important role in human early pregnancy. We have previously shown that PROKR1 and PROKR2 are associated with recurrent miscarriage (RM) using the tag-SNP method. In this study, we aimed to identify PROKR1 and PROKR2 variants in idiopathic RM patients by genotyping of the entire coding regions. Peripheral blood DNA samples of 100 RM women and 100 controls were subjected to sequence the entire exons of PROKR1 and PROKR2. Significant non-synonymous variant genotypes present in the original 200 samples were further confirmed in the extended samples of 144 RM patients and 153 controls. Genetic variants that were over- or under-represented in the patients were ectopically expressed in HEK293 and JAR cells to investigate their effects on intracellular calcium influx, cell proliferation, cell invasion, cell–cell adhesion, and tube organization. We found that the allele and genotype frequencies of PROKR1 (I379V) and PROKR2 (V331M) were significantly increased in the normal control groups compared with idiopathic RM women (P<0.05). PROKR1 (I379V) and PROKR2 (V331M) decreased intracellular calcium influx but increased cell invasiveness (P<0.05), whereas cell proliferation, cell–cell adhesion, and tube organization were not significantly affected. In conclusion, PROKR1 (I379V) and PROKR2 (V331M) variants conferred lower risk for RM and may play protective roles in early pregnancy by altering calcium signaling and facilitating cell invasiveness.
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Mei-Tsz Su, Sheng-Hsiang Lin, Yi-Chi Chen, Li-Wha Wu, and Pao-Lin Kuo
Lin Chen, Weijie Zhao, Mengxiong Li, Yazhu Yang, Chengzi Tian, Dengyang Zhang, Zhiguang Chang, Yunzhe Zhang, Zhizhuang Joe Zhao, Yun Chen, and Lin Ma
Decidualization is the process of conversion of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) into decidual stromal cells (DSCs), which is caused by progesterone production that begins during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and then increases throughout pregnancy dedicated to support embryonic development. Decidualization deficiency is closely associated with various pregnancy complications, such as recurrent miscarriage (RM). Here, we reported that Src-homology-2-containing phospho-tyrosine phosphatase (SHP2), a key regulator in the signal transduction process downstream of various receptors, plays an indispensable role in decidualization. SHP2 expression was upregulated during decidualization. SHP2 inhibitor RMC-4550 and shRNA mediated SHP2 reduction resulted in a decreased level of phosphorylation of ERK and aberrant cytoplasmic localization of progesterone receptor (PR), coinciding with reduced expression of IGFBP1 and various other target genes of decidualization. Solely inhibiting ERK activity recapitulated these observations. Administration of RMC-4550 led to decidualization deficiency and embryo absorption in mouse. Moreover, reduced expression of SHP2 was detected in decidua of RM patients. Our results revealed that SHP2 is key to PR's nuclear localization, thereby indispensable for decidualization and that reduced expression of SHP2 might be engaged in the pathogenesis of RM.
Bohan Chen, Chandan Gurung, Jason Guo, Chulan Kwon, and Yan-Lin Guo
Recent studies have demonstrated that embryonic stem cells (ESCs) have an underdeveloped innate immune system, but the biological implications of this finding are poorly understood. In this study, we compared the responses of mouse ESCs (mESCs) and mESC differentiated fibroblasts (mESC-FBs) to tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and interferons (IFNs). Our data revealed that TNFα, IFNα, IFNβ, or IFNγ alone do not cause apparent effects on mESCs and mESC-FBs, but the combination of TNFα and IFNγ (TNFα/IFNγ) showed toxicity to mESC-FBs as indicated by cell cycle inhibition and reduced cell viability, correlating with the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). However, none of these effects were observed in mESCs that were treated with TNFα/IFNγ. Furthermore, mESC-FBs, but not mESCs, are vulnerable to cytotoxicity resulting from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated macrophages. The insensitivity of mESCs to cytotoxicity in all cases is correlated with their lack of responses to TNFα and IFNγ. Similar to mESCs, human ESCs (hESCs) and iPSCs (hiPSCs) do not respond to TNFα and are not susceptible to the cytotoxicity of TNFα, IFNβ, or IFNγ alone or in combination that significantly affects human foreskin fibroblast (hFBs) and Hela cells. However, unlike mESCs, hESCs and hiPSCs can respond to IFNγ, but this does not cause significant cytotoxicity in hESCs and hiPSCs. Our findings in both mouse and human PSCs together support the hypothesis that attenuated innate immune responses could be a protective mechanism that limits immunologic cytotoxicity resulting from inflammatory and immune responses.
Meng-Ling Liu, Jing-Lei Wang, Jie Wei, Lin-Lin Xu, Mei Yu, Xiao-Mei Liu, Wen-Li Ruan, and Jia-Xiang Chen
Tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate (TOCP) has been widely used as plasticizers, plastic softeners, and flame retardants in industry and reported to have a deleterious effect on the male reproductive system in animals besides delayed neurotoxicity. Our preliminary results found that TOCP could disrupt the seminiferous epithelium in the testis and inhibit spermatogenesis, but the precise mechanism is yet to be elucidated. This study shows that TOCP inhibited viability of rat spermatogonial stem cells in a dose-dependent manner. TOCP could not lead to cell cycle arrest in the cells; the mRNA levels of p21, p27, p53, and cyclin D1 in the cells were also not affected by TOCP. Meanwhile, TOCP did not induce apoptosis of rat spermatogonial stem cells. After treatment with TOCP, however, both LC3-II and the ratio of LC3-II/LC3-I were markedly increased; autophagy proteins ATG5 and beclin 1 were also increased after treatment with TOCP, indicating that TOCP could induce autophagy in the cells. Ultrastructural observation under the transmission electron microscopy indicated that autophagic vesicles in the cytoplasm containing extensively degraded organelles such as mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum increased significantly after the cells were treated with TOCP. In summary, we have shown that TOCP can inhibit viability of rat spermatogonial stem cells and induce autophagy of the cells, without affecting cell cycle and apoptosis.
Jinglei Wang, Wenli Ruan, Boshu Huang, Shuxin Shao, Dan Yang, Mengling Liu, Lin Zeng, Jie Wei, and Jiaxiang Chen
Tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate (TOCP) has been widely used as plasticizers, plastic softeners and flame-retardants in industry and reported to have male reproductive toxicology. However, it is still unknown whether TOCP affects the female reproductive system and its underlying mechanism. In the present study, we found that TOCP exposure significantly decreased ovarian coefficient, caused disintegration and depletion of the granulosa cells in the ovary tissue and significantly inhibited the level of serum estradiol (E2). TOCP markedly increased both LC3-II and the ratio of LC3-II/LC3-I as well as autophagy proteins ATG5 and Beclin1 in the ovary tissue, implying that TOCP could induce autophagy in the ovary tissue. To further investigate the potential mechanism, primary ovarian granulosa cells were isolated in vitro and treated with 0–0.5 mM TOCP for 48 h. We showed that TOCP decreased the number of viable mouse granulosa cells without affecting cell cycle and apoptosis of the cells. Intriguingly, TOCP treatment markedly increased both LC3-II and the ratio of LC3-II/LC3-I as well as ATG5 and Beclin1. Furthermore, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showed that autophagic vesicles in the cytoplasm increased significantly in the TOCP-treated cells, indicating that TOCP could induce autophagy in the cells. Taken together, TOCP reduces the number of viable cells and induces autophagy in mouse ovarian granulosa cells without affecting cell cycle and apoptosis.
Xiaoli Qin, Yan Chen, Jiangjing Yuan, Xiaorui Liu, Weihong Zeng, and Yi Lin
Abnormal growth and migration of trophoblast cells is one of the main causes of spontaneous abortion. Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A (eIF5A) plays an important role in trophoblast cell growth and migration; however, its underlying mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we first confirmed that eIF5A knockdown reduced human chorionic trophoblast HTR8 cells viability, proliferation, and migration. Next, we sought to systematically identify the genes regulated by eIF5A and observed changes in the transcriptome profile of eIF5A-knockdown HTR8 cells by RNA-seq analysis. Especially, we found that inhibition of eIF5A reduced both the mRNA and protein levels of methyltransferase-like protein 14 (METTL14). Furthermore, inhibition of METTL14 expression resulted in the reduction of viability, proliferation, and migration of HTR8 cells. In addition, we showed that overexpression of METTL14 rescued the effects of eIF5A knockdown in HTR8 cells. Finally, we revealed that eIF5A and METTL14 expression was decreased in spontaneous abortion samples compared to that in elective-induced abortion samples. Collectively, our study demonstrated that eIF5A plays a crucial role in HTR8 cells via modulation of METTL14 expression and may serve as a novel potential target for spontaneous abortion diagnosis and treatment.
Rui Chen, Jian Du, Lin Ma, Li-qing Wang, Sheng-song Xie, Chang-ming Yang, Xian-yong Lan, Chuan-ying Pan, and Wu-zi Dong
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 18–24 nucleotides non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression by post-transcriptional suppression of mRNA. The Chinese giant salamander (CGS, Andrias davidianus), which is an endangered species, has become one of the important models of animal evolution; however, no miRNA studies on this species have been conducted. In this study, two small RNA libraries of CGS ovary and testis were constructed using deep sequencing technology. A bioinformatics pipeline was developed to distinguish miRNA sequences from other classes of small RNAs represented in the sequencing data. We found that many miRNAs and other small RNAs such as piRNA and tsRNA were abundant in CGS tissue. A total of 757 and 756 unique miRNAs were annotated as miRNA candidates in the ovary and testis respectively. We identified 145 miRNAs in CGS ovary and 155 miRNAs in CGS testis that were homologous to those in Xenopus laevis ovary and testis respectively. Forty-five miRNAs were more highly expressed in ovary than in testis and 21 miRNAs were more highly expressed in testis than in ovary. The expression profiles of the selected miRNAs (miR-451, miR-10c, miR-101, miR-202, miR-7a and miR-499) had their own different roles in other eight tissues and different development stages of testis and ovary, suggesting that these miRNAs play vital regulatory roles in sexual differentiation, gametogenesis and development in CGS. To our knowledge, this is the first study to reveal miRNA profiles that are related to male and female CGS gonads and provide insights into sex differences in miRNA expression in CGS.
Hui-Qin Mo, Fu-Ju Tian, Xiao-Ling Ma, Yu-Chen Zhang, Cheng-Xi Zhang, Wei-Hong Zeng, Yan Zhang, and Yi Lin
Protein disulfide isomerase 3 (PDIA3) is a chaperone protein that modulates the folding of newly synthesized glycoproteins, has isomerase and redox activity, and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases. However, the role of PDIA3 in pregnancy-associated diseases remains largely unknown. Our present study reveals a key role for PDIA3 in the biology of placental trophoblasts from women with preeclampsia (PE). Immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis revealed that PDIA3 expression was decreased in villous trophoblasts from women with PE compared to normotensive pregnancies. Further, using a Cell Counting Kit-8 assay, flow cytometry, and 5-ethynyl-2’-deoxyuridine (EdU) staining, we found that siRNA-mediated PDIA3 knockdown significantly promoted apoptosis and inhibited proliferation in the HTR8/SVneo cell line, while overexpression of PDIA3 reversed these effects. Furthermore, RNA sequencing and Western blot analysis demonstrated that knockdown of PDIA3 inhibited MDM2 protein expression in HTR8 cells, concurrent with marked elevation of p53 and p21 expression. Conversely, overexpression of PDIA3 had the opposite effects. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot further revealed that MDM2 protein expression was downregulated and p21 was increased in trophoblasts of women with PE compared to women with normotensive pregnancies. Our findings indicate that PDIA3 expression is decreased in the trophoblasts of women with PE, and decreased PDIA3 induces trophoblast apoptosis and represses trophoblast proliferation through regulating the MDM2/p53/p21 pathway.
Xiao-Wei Wei, Xue-Qing Liu, Yu-Chen Zhang, Chuan-Mei Qin, Yi Lin, and Fu-Ju Tian
Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is a multifactorial condition with no explanation of miscarriage in approximately half of the RPL patients, consequently leaving deep physical and emotional sequels. Transcription factor 3 (TCF3 or E2A), is a unique member of the LEF/TCF family and plays an important role in embryogenesis. However, its function in RPL is poorly understood. Using real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), western blotting, and immunohistochemistry, we demonstrated that TCF3 was downregulated in decidual tissues from RPL patients compared with healthy control (HC). Further, TCF3 knockdown inhibited proliferation, induced G0/G1 phase arrest, and promoted migration in human endometrial stromal cells (HESCs), while overexpression of TCF3 exhibited the opposite effects. RNA-sequencing analysis combined with gene-set enrichment analysis results showed that the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway is potentially downstream of TCF3. Knockdown of TCF3 confirmed increased p38 phosphorylation, while overexpression of TCF3 inhibited p38 phosphorylation. Furthermore, we found that TCF3 protein level was decreased in HESCs under hypoxic incubation, while hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1A) knockdown increased the expression of TCF3. TCF3 overexpression recovered the proliferation ability of HESCs inhibited by hypoxia and reversed hypoxia-induced migration. Consistently, we found that RPL patients had a significantly higher level of HIF1A in the decidual tissue than HC. Overall, this study clarifies that increased HIF1A in the decidua contributes to the occurrence of RPL through the TCF3/p38 signaling pathway.
Sheng-Hsiang Li, Robert Kuo-Kuang Lee, Ming-Huei Lin, Yuh-Ming Hwu, Chung-Hao Lu, Ying-Jie Chen, Hsuan-Chiang Chen, Wen-Hwei Chang, and Wei-Chao Chang
The Ly-6 protein family refers to a group of glycophosphatidyl inositol-anchored membrane proteins with ten conserved cysteines. They are thought to be involved in cellular adhesion and signaling. Recently, a subfamily of secreted Ly-6 proteins has been identified. In the present study, we report a secreted Ly-6 protein, secreted seminal vesicle Ly-6 protein 1 (SSLP-1) purified from mouse seminal vesicles using a series of steps including ion-exchange chromatography on a diethylaminoethyl (DEAE)-Sephacel column, gel filtration on a Sephadex G-75 column, and ion-exchange HPLC on a sulfopropyl column. Further analysis demonstrated it to be a novel, previously unnamed, 17 kDa glycoprotein. N-glycosidase F treatment revealed a core protein with a molecular mass of 8720 Da. By Basic Local Alignment Search Tool Protein analysis, we found that SSLP-1 had ten conserved cysteine residues identical with other secreted Ly-6 proteins. The gene Gm191, which is located on chromosome 9, encodes SSLP-1. By Northern blotting with 21 different mouse tissues, we found that Sslp-1 mRNA was predominantly expressed in the seminal vesicle. Immunohistochemistry revealed SSLP-1 protein in the luminal fluid and mucosal epithelium of the seminal vesicles. The amount of Sslp-1 mRNA and SSLP-1 protein in the seminal vesicle was regulated by testosterone and correlated with the stage of animal maturation. The tissue-specific expression pattern suggests that SSLP-1 may play a physiological role in male mouse reproduction.