Human placental lactogen enhancer: Tissue specificity and binding with specific proteins

William Henry Walker, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Human placental lactogen (hPL) is a 22,000 dalton protein hormone produced in the placenta. The physiological actions of hPL are not well understood but its major activity is to regulate both maternal and fetal metabolism. hPL stimulates maternal lipolysis increasing free fatty acids in the maternal blood, allowing their use as an energy source by the mother, and sparing glucose for the fetus. It may also act as a growth promoting hormone for the fetus. hPL is produced in increasing amounts as pregnancy progresses. At term, hPL accounts for 10% of protein and 5% of total RNA in the placenta. This high level of hPL production is tissue-specific, as hPL is only produced in the placenta by syncytiotrophoblast cells. The objective of this work was to understand the mechanism by which such high levels of hPL are produced in a tissue-specific manner. A transcriptional enhancer found 2.2 kb 3$\sp\prime$ to one of the hPL genes (hPL$\sb3$) may explain the regulation of hPL expression. Transient transfection experiments using the hPL-producing human choriocarcinoma cell line JEG-3 localized the hPL enhancer to a 138 bp core element. This 138 bp sequence was found to be tissue specific in its actions as it did not promote transcription in heterologous cell lines. Gel mobility shift assays showed the hPL enhancer interacts specifically with nuclear proteins unique to hPL-producing cells. Within the 138 bp enhancer a 22 bp region was shown to be protected from DNase I digestion due to binding of proteins derived from placental nuclear extracts. Proteins binding this region of the enhancer may be instrumental in the tissue specific activity of the hPL enhancer.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Walker, William Henry, "Human placental lactogen enhancer: Tissue specificity and binding with specific proteins" (1990). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9021166.