The proper establishment and organogenesis of the placenta is crucial for intrauterine fetal growth and development. Endometrial invasion by the extravillous trophoblast cells, as well as formation of the syncytiotrophoblast (STB), are of vital importance for placental function. Trophoblast migration and invasion is often compared to tumor metastasis, which uses many of the same molecular mechanisms. However, unlike cancer cells, both initiation and the extent of trophoblast invasion are tightly regulated by feto-maternal cross-talk, which when perturbed, results in a wide range of abnormalities. Multiple factors control the trophoblast, including cytokines and hormones, which are subject to transcriptional regulatory networks. The relevance of epigenetics in transcriptional regulation of trophoblast differentiation and invasion, as well as in the onset of placenta-related pregnancy disorders, became recognized decades ago. Although, there has been tremendous progress in uncovering the molecular foundation of placental development, there is still much to be learned about the epigenetic machinery, and its role in trophoblast differentiation and invasion. This review will provide an overview of the epigenetic control of trophoblast differentiation and invasion. It will also highlight the major epigenetic mechanisms involved in pregnancy complications related to placental deficiencies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology