Expression of membrane and nuclear progesterone receptors in two human placental choriocarcinoma cell lines (JEG-3 and BeWo): Effects of syncytialization

Elena Zachariades, Helen Foster, Anastasia Goumenou, Peter Thomas, Mariann Rand-Weaver, Emmanouil Karteris

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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A vital function of the human placenta is to produce steroid hormones such as progesterone, which are essential for the maintenance of pregnancy and the onset of parturition. Although choriocarcinoma cell lines are valuable placental models for investigations of steroid hormone actions, little is known about the expression of progesterone receptors (PRs) in these cell lines. Therefore, in this study, the expression of membrane and nuclear PRs was investigated in cultures of fusigenic (BeWo) and non-fusigenic (JEG-3) human choriocarcinoma cell lines. In addition, the effects of an inducer of syncytialization (forskolin) on the PR expression in BeWo cells were assessed. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that in fully syncytialized BeWo cells (treated with 50 µM forskolin for 72 h) there was a significant down-regulation of mPRα and up-regulation of mPRβ and of the progesterone membrane component-1 (PGRMC1) when compared with non-syncytialized BeWo cells. Expression of all the mPR and PGRMC1 mRNAs was significantly lower in JEG-3 cells compared to non-syncytialized BeWo cells. Interestingly, expression of PR-B was unaltered between the two BeWo states but was significantly higher in JEG-3 cells. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed that mPR proteins are differentially expressed in these choriocarcinoma cell lines as well as in the human placenta. The data demonstrate that human choriocarcinoma cell lines have a complex system of progesterone signalling involving multiple classes of PRs. The finding that syncytialization is accompanied by changes in the expression of these receptors may suggest that this process influences progesterone signalling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-74
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2011


  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Choriocarcinoma
  • Colforsin/pharmacology
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Products, env/genetics
  • Giant Cells/cytology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins/genetics
  • Placenta/metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Proteins/genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear/genetics
  • Receptors, Progesterone/genetics
  • Uterine Neoplasms


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