Proliferation and differentiation of villous trophoblast during placental development, from an early stage to full-term, were investigated in routinely fixed and processed tissues, by means of the immunocytochemical localization of the cell cycle-related proto-oncogene c-myc and the p53 and retinoblastoma susceptibility (Rb) tumour-suppressor gene products. The proliferative activity of the trophoblast was determined using an antibody against proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) which stains all proliferating cells in paraffin-embedded tissues. Diffuse nuclear immunoreactivity for PCNA, c-myc and Rb gene products was a consistent finding in early cytotrophoblast; c-myc product expression was also detectable in both layers of mid-gestation trophoblast. Only scattered cytotrophoblastic nuclei of early gestational placenta displayed immunostaining for p53 gene product. In full-term placenta c-myc expression was undetectable while Rb gene product and PCNA immunoreactivity declined markedly. These results indicate that the expression of the above genes is spatio-temporally regulated during placental development. A potential involvement of the oncosuppressor gene products p53 and Rb in the control of trophoblastic proliferation and of c-myc in the control of both the proliferative and differentiation pathways of trophoblastic cells is suggested.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology