Published on Fri Oct 01 2021

Laminin switches terminal differentiation fate of human trophoblast stem cells under chemically defined culture conditions.

Karakis, V., McDonald, T., Cordiner, A., Mischler, A., San Miguel, A., Rao, B. M.

Human trophoblast stem cells (hTSCs) have emerged as a powerful tool to model early placental development in vitro. Here we present a chemically defined culture system for STB and EVT differentiation of hTSCs. Inhibition of protein kinase C (PKC) signaling during hTSC differentiation to the EVT lineage.

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Abstract

Human trophoblast stem cells (hTSCs) have emerged as a powerful tool to model early placental development in vitro. Analogous to the epithelial cytotrophoblast in the placenta, hTSCs can differentiate into cells of the extravillous trophoblast (EVT) lineage or the multinucleate syncytiotrophoblast (STB). Here we present a chemically defined culture system for STB and EVT differentiation of hTSCs. Notably, in contrast to current approaches, we do not utilize transforming growth factor-beta inhibitors or a passage step for EVT differentiation, or forskolin for STB formation. Strikingly, under these conditions, presence of a single additional extracellular cue - laminin-1 - switched the terminal differentiation of hTSCs from STB to the EVT lineage. Activation of the sphingosine-1 receptor 3 receptor (S1PR3) using a chemical agonist could drive EVT differentiation of hTSCs in the absence of exogenous laminin, albeit less efficiently. To illustrate the utility of a chemically defined culture system for mechanistic studies, we examined the role of protein kinase C (PKC) signaling during hTSC differentiation to the EVT lineage. Inhibition of PKC/{beta} signaling significantly reduced HLA-G expression and the formation of HLA-G+ mesenchymal EVTs during hTSC differentiation mediated by laminin exposure; however, it did not prevent commitment to the EVT lineage or STB differentiation. The chemically defined culture system for hTSC differentiation established herein facilitates quantitative analysis of heterogeneity that arises during hTSC differentiation, and will enable mechanistic studies in vitro.