The ubiquitin ligase ASB4 promotes trophoblast differentiation through the degradation of ID2

Academic Article


  • Vascularization of the placenta is a critical developmental process that ensures fetal viability. Although the vascular health of the placenta affects both maternal and fetal well being, relatively little is known about the early stages of placental vascular development. The ubiquitin ligase Ankyrin repeat, SOCS box-containing 4 (ASB4) promotes embryonic stem cell differentiation to vascular lineages and is highly expressed early in placental development. The transcriptional regulator Inhibitor of DNA binding 2 (ID2) negatively regulates vascular differentiation during development and is a target of many ubiquitin ligases. Due to their overlapping spatiotemporal expression pattern in the placenta and contrasting effects on vascular differentiation, we investigated whether ASB4 regulates ID2 through its ligase activity in the placenta and whether this activity mediates vascular differentiation. In mouse placentas, ASB4 expression is restricted to a subset of cells that express both stem cell and endothelial markers. Placentas that lack Asb4 display immature vascular patterning and retain expression of placental progenitor markers, including ID2 expression. Using JAR placental cells, we determined that ASB4 ubiquitinates and represses ID2 expression in a proteasome-dependent fashion. Expression of ASB4 in JAR cells and primary isolated trophoblast stem cells promotes the expression of differentiation markers. In functional endothelial co-culture assays, JAR cells ectopically expressing ASB4 increased endothelial cell turnover and stabilized endothelial tube formation, both of which are hallmarks of vascular differentiation within the placenta. Co-transfection of a degradation-resistant Id2 mutant with Asb4 inhibits both differentiation and functional responses. Lastly, deletion of Asb4 in mice induces a pathology that phenocopies human pre-eclampsia, including hypertension and proteinuria in late-stage pregnant females. These results indicate that ASB4 mediates vascular differentiation in the placenta via its degradation of ID2. © 2014 Townley-Tilson et al.
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Townley-Tilson WHD; Wu Y; Ferguson JE; Patterson C
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 2