Dynamic maternal and fetal Notch activity and expression in placentation

Heather I. Levin, Chantae S. Sullivan-Pyke, Virginia E. Papaioannou, Ronald J. Wapner, Jan K. Kitajewski, Carrie J. Shawber, Nataki C. Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Introduction Murine placentation requires trophoblast Notch2, while the Notch ligand, JAGGED1, is reduced in invasive trophoblasts from women with preeclampsia. However, the placental cells with active Notch signaling and expression of other Notch proteins and ligands in placentation have yet to be defined. We sought to identify endothelial cell and trophoblast subtypes with canonical Notch signaling in the decidua and placenta and correlate this to expression of Notch proteins and ligands. Methods Notch reporter transgenic mice were used to define canonical Notch activity and immunofluorescence staining performed to characterize expression of Notch1, 2, 3, 4 and ligands, Delta-like 4 (Dll4) and Jagged1 (Jag1) during early placentation and in the mature placenta. Results Notch signaling is active in maternal and fetal endothelial cells and trophoblasts during early placentation and in the mature placenta. Dll4, Jag1, Notch1, and Notch4 are expressed in maternal vasculature in the decidua. Dll4, Jag1 and Notch1 are expressed in fetal vasculature in the labyrinth. Dll4, Notch2 and Notch4 are co-expressed in the ectoplacental cone. Notch2 and Notch4 are expressed in parietal-trophoblast giant cells and junctional zone trophoblasts with active canonical Notch signaling and in labyrinthine syncytiotrophoblasts and sinusoidal-trophoblast giant cells. Discussion Canonical Notch activity and distinct expression patterns for Notch proteins and ligands was evident in endothelium and trophoblasts, suggesting Notch1, Notch2, Notch4, Dll4, and Jag1 have distinct and overlapping functions in placentation. Characterization of Notch signaling defects in existing mouse models of preeclampsia may shed light on the role of Notch in developing the preeclampsia phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Decidua
  • Endothelium
  • Notch
  • Placenta
  • Preeclampsia
  • Trophoblast


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