Gene expression in placentation of farm animals: an overview of gene function during development.
Eutherian mammals share a common ancestor that evolved into two main placental types, i.e., hemotrophic (e.g., human and mouse) and histiotrophic (e.g., farm animals), which differ in invasiveness. Pregnancies initiated with assisted reproductive techniques (ART) in farm animals are at increased risk of failure; these losses were associated with placental defects, perhaps due to altered gene expression. Developmentally regulated genes in the placenta seem highly phylogenetically conserved, whereas those expressed later in pregnancy are more species-specific. To elucidate differences between hemotrophic and epitheliochorial placentae, gene expression data were compiled from microarray studies of bovine placental tissues at various stages of pregnancy. Moreover, an in silico subtractive library was constructed based on homology of bovine genes to the database of zebrafish - a nonplacental vertebrate. In addition, the list of placental preferentially expressed genes for the human and mouse were collected using bioinformatics tools (Tissue-specific Gene Expression and Regulation [TiGER] - for humans, and tissue-specific genes database (TiSGeD) - for mice and humans). Humans, mice, and cattle shared 93 genes expressed in their placentae. Most of these were related to immune function (based on analysis of gene ontology). Cattle and women shared expression of 23 genes, mostly related to hormonal activity, whereas mice and women shared 16 genes (primarily sexual differentiation and glycoprotein biology). Because the number of genes expressed by the placentae of both cattle and mice were similar (based on cluster analysis), we concluded that both cattle and mice were suitable models to study the biology of the human placenta.