Role of EZH2-mediated H3K27me3 in placental ADAM12-S expression: implications for fetoplacental growth

Ya nan Zhu, Xiao wen Gan, Fan Pan, Xiao tian Ni, Leslie Myatt, Wang sheng Wang, Kang Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2)-mediated histone 3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) is a transcription silencing mark, which is indispensable for cell lineage specification at the early blastocyst stage. This epigenetic repression is maintained in placental cytotrophoblasts but is lifted when cytotrophoblasts differentiate into syncytiotrophoblasts. However, the physiological impact of this lift remains elusive. Here, we investigated whether lifting EZH2-mediated H3K27me3 during syncytialization upregulates the expression of a short secretory isoform of a disintegrin and metalloprotease 12 (ADAM12-S), a well-recognized placenta-derived protease that cleaves insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 to increase insulin-like growth factor (IGF) bioavailability for the stimulation of fetoplacental growth. The transcription factor and the upstream signal involved were also explored. Methods: Human placenta tissue and cultured primary human placental cytotrophoblasts were utilized to investigate the role of EZH2-mediated H3K27me3 in ADAM12-S expression and the associated transcription factor and upstream signal during syncytialization. A mouse model was used to examine whether inhibition of EZH2-mediated H3K27me3 regulates placental ADAM12-S expression and fetoplacental growth. Results: EZH2 and ADAM12 are distributed primarily in villous cytotrophoblasts and syncytiotrophoblasts, respectively. Increased ADAM12-S expression, decreased EZH2 expression, and decreased EZH2/H3K27me3 enrichment at the ADAM12 promoter were observed during syncytialization. Knock-down of EZH2 further increased ADAM12-S expression in trophoblasts. Syncytialization was also accompanied by increased STAT5B expression and phosphorylation as well as its enrichment at the ADAM12 promoter. Knock-down of STAT5B attenuated ADAM12-S expression during syncytialization. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) was capable of inducing ADAM12-S expression via stimulation of STAT5B expression and phosphorylation during syncytialization. Mouse studies revealed that administration of an EZH2 inhibitor significantly increased ADAM12-S levels in maternal blood and fetoplacental weights along with decreased H3K27me3 abundance and increased ADAM12-S expression in the placenta. Conclusions: Lifting EZH2-mediated H3K27me3 increases ADAM12-S expression during syncytialization with the participation of EGF-activated STAT5B, which may lead to elevation of ADAM12-S level in maternal blood resulting in increased IGF bioavailability for the stimulation of fetoplacental growth in pregnancy. Our studies suggest that the role of EZH2-mediated H3K27me3 may switch from cell lineage specification at the early blastocyst stage to regulation of fetoplacental growth in later gestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number189
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • ADAM12
  • EZH2
  • Fetus
  • IGF
  • Placenta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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