Context: Recent published studies indicate a possible role for sFlt1 in the development of preeclampsia. Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate the expression and regulation of sFlt1-e15a, a recently described novel C-terminal variant isoform of sFlt1. Design: The studies included a computational comparative analysis of the genomic locus of sFlt1 across vertebrate species; an assessment of sFlt1 variants in human and rhesus cells and tissues; an analysis of sFlt1 variants transiently expressed in HeLa and COS-7 cells; an evaluation of the effect of hypoxia on sFlt1 expression in trophoblasts; and a comparison of placental sFlt1 expression between pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia and control pregnancies. Result and Conclusions: sFlt1-e15a emerged as an alternate transcript of Flt1 late in evolution with the insertion of an AluSq sequence into the primate genome after the emergence of the simian infraorder about 40 million years ago. sFlt1-e15a is particularly abundant in human placenta and trophoblasts and is also highly expressed in nonhuman primate placenta. The expressed protein has a C-terminal polyserine tail and, like reference sequence sFlt1 (sFlt1-i13), is glycosylated and secreted. Consistent with a role in placental pathophysiology, hypoxia stimulates sFlt1-e15a expression in isolated cytotrophoblasts and a trophoblast cell line, and differentiation into syncytiotrophoblasts further enhances the effect of hypoxia. Placental levels of sFlt1-e15a and sFlt1-i13 transcripts are significantly elevated in patients with preeclampsia compared with normal pregnancies. We speculate that sFlt1-e15a may contribute to the pathophysiology of preeclampsia.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by pilot Grant DK52617 from the O’Brien Kidney Disease Center, a New Directions Grant from the American Society of Nephrology, a Veterans Affairs Merit Review Award, and Public Health Service Grants HL71664 (to C.P.T.) and HD37120 (to T.G.G.).
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