Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Differentiation of human placental mononuclear trophoblasts into a multinucleate syncytium involves up-regulation of key proteins promoting cell fusion and increased capacity for placental hormonogenesis. It is well established that the activation of adenylyl cyclase leads to increased expression of trophoblast fusogenic gene machinery and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) secretion. We used the forskolin-induced syncytialisation of BeWo choriocarcinoma cells as a model to characterise in detail the signalling pathway downstream of adenylyl cyclase. Forskolin treatment induced a rapid and potent ERK1/2 and p38MAPK phosphorylation; this cascade required PKA-AKAP interactions and led to downstream CREB-1/ATF-1 phosphorylation via ERK1/2-dependent but p38MAPK-independent mechanisms. Interestingly both p38MAPK and ERK1/2 were involved in forskolin-induced hCG-secretion, suggesting the presence of additional p38MAPK-dependent but CREB-1/ATF-1-independent pathways. Forskolin treatment of BeWo cells significantly up-regulated the expression of various fusogenic gene mRNAs, including syncytin-1 and -2 (by 3- and 10-fold, respectively) the transcription factors old astrocyte specifically induced substance (OASIS) and glial cells missing a (GCMa) (by 3- and 6-fold, respectively) and the syncytin-2 receptor, major facilitator superfamily domain containing 2 (MFSD2) (by 2-fold). Up-regulation of AKAP79 and AKAP250 (by 2.5- and 4-fold, respectively) was also identified in forskolin-treated BeWo cells. Forskolin effects on all these genes were suppressed by chemical inhibition of p38MAPK whereas only specific genes were sensitive to ERK1/2 inhibition. This data provide novel insights into the signalling molecules and mechanisms regulating fusogenic gene expression by the adenylyl cyclase pathway.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cell Endocrinol

Publication Date





213 - 220


Cell Line, Tumor, Choriocarcinoma, Chorionic Gonadotropin, Colforsin, Cyclic AMP, Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases, Enzyme Inhibitors, Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, MAP Kinase Signaling System, Placenta, Pregnancy, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt, Trophoblasts, p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases