Placental Transcription Profiling in 6–23 Weeks’ Gestation Reveals Differential Transcript Usage in Early Development

Konstantinos J. Bogias, Stephen M. Pederson, Shalem Leemaqz, Melanie D. Smith, Dale McAninch, Tanja Jankovic-Karasoulos, Dylan McCullough, Qianhui Wan, Tina Bianco-Miotto, James Breen, Claire T. Roberts

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The human placenta is a rapidly developing transient organ that is key to pregnancy success. Early development of the conceptus occurs in a low oxygen environment before oxygenated maternal blood begins to flow into the placenta at ~10–12 weeks’ gestation. This process is likely to substantially affect overall placental gene expression. Transcript variability underlying gene expression has yet to be profiled. In this study, accurate transcript expression profiles were identified for 84 human placental chorionic villus tissue samples collected across 6–23 weeks’ gestation. Differential gene expression (DGE), differential transcript expression (DTE) and differential transcript usage (DTU) between 6–10 weeks’ and 11–23 weeks’ gestation groups were assessed. In total, 229 genes had significant DTE yet no significant DGE. Integration of DGE and DTE analyses found that differential expression patterns of individual transcripts were commonly masked upon aggregation to the gene-level. Of the 611 genes that exhibited DTU, 534 had no significant DGE or DTE. The four most significant DTU genes ADAM10, VMP1, GPR126, and ASAH1, were associated with hypoxia-responsive pathways. Transcript usage is a likely regulatory mechanism in early placentation. Identification of functional roles will facilitate new insight in understanding the origins of pregnancy complications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4506
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • development
  • human
  • placenta
  • RNA-seq
  • transcriptome


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