Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Up-regulated cytotrophoblast DOCK4 contributes to over-invasion in placenta accreta spectrum


In humans, a subset of placental cytotrophoblasts (CTBs) invades the uterus and its vasculature, anchoring the pregnancy and ensuring adequate blood flow to the fetus. Appropriate depth is critical. Shallow invasion increases the risk of pregnancy complications, e.g., severe preeclampsia. Overly deep invasion, the hallmark of placenta accreta spectrum (PAS), increases the risk of preterm delivery, hemorrhage, and death. Previously a rare condition, the incidence of PAS has increased to 1:731 pregnancies, likely due to the rise in uterine surgeries (e.g., Cesarean sections). CTBs track along scars deep into the myometrium and beyond. Here we compared the global gene expression patterns of CTBs from PAS cases to gestational age-matched control cells that invaded to the normal depth from preterm birth (PTB) deliveries. The messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding the guanine nucleotide exchange factor, DOCK4, mutations of which promote cancer cell invasion and angiogenesis, was the most highly up-regulated molecule in PAS samples. Overexpression of DOCK4 increased CTB invasiveness, consistent with the PAS phenotype. Also, this analysis identified other genes with significantly altered expression in this disorder, potential biomarkers. These data suggest that CTBs from PAS cases up-regulate a cancer-like proinvasion mechanism, suggesting molecular as well as phenotypic similarities in the two pathologies.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View