• Syncytiotrophoblast membrane;
  • placenta;
  • two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis;
  • immunoblots

ABSTRACT: Isolated human syncytiotrophoblast microvillous plasma membranes (StMPM) have been examined by electron microscopy, SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), two-dimensional PAGE (2D-PAGE), and immunoblots. Electron microscopy of StMPM pellets revealed populations of membrane-bounded vesicles that disrupted after treatment with the chaotrope 3M KCl for 16 hr; with increasing molarity of another chaotrope (NH4SCN), the vesicles became smaller and more homogeneous. NH4SCN treatment resulted in significant reduction on SDS and 2D-PAGE analysis of only one protein at 80kd, shown by immunoblotting to be transferrin; 3M KCl had little effect and appeared to be a poor chaotrope. Chromogenic silver staining of SDS-PAGE gels demonstrated over 50 StMPM-associated discrete protein components. Immunoblotting revealed transferrin (80kd), albumin (65kd), IgH heavy chain (56kd), and Gc protein (56kd). Alpha-2-macroglobulin (α2M) was identified at 180kd and 95kd; the smaller component may be a proteolytic derivative indicating binding to a trophoblast surface protease. Numerous discrete protein dots, and groups of dots characteristic of charge heterogeneity of individual proteins, were observed on high resolution 2D-PAGE. The most intensely stained proteins were transferrin (80kd), albumin (65kd), placental-type alkaline phosphatase (66kd), and actin (46kd). This 2D-PAGE technique is a superior method for analyzing the trophoblast membrane proteins, and the system described will enable systematic mapping of these components.