Caspase-14: a new player in cytotrophoblast differentiation Academic Article uri icon


  • The human placenta is responsible for the exchange of nutrients, gas and wastes through the trophoblast maternal-fetal barrier, which is formed by the fusion of villous cytotrophoblasts to form the continuous multinucleated syncytiotrophoblast separating the maternal and fetal circulations. Caspase-14 is a seemingly non-apoptotic caspase involved in keratinocyte differentiation and cornification. It is proposed that caspase-14 has a conserved role in cellular differentiation and a role in differentiation and fusion in the trophoblast. The human choriocarcinoma BeWo cell line was treated with staurosporine and forskolin to induce apoptosis and differentiation respectively. Staurosporine initiated apoptosis within 3 h of treatment, while apoptosis was completed following 6 h treatment. Caspase-14 gene and protein expression was unchanged throughout this process. During BeWo differentiation, caspase-14 mRNA was elevated after 48 h forskolin treatment, while its protein was increased after 24 h. Therefore, caspase-14 is up-regulated during trophoblast differentiation, as represented by the BeWo cell line. Moreover, caspase-14 may interact with other signalling molecules to facilitate differentiation. This new data confirms the potential for the BeWo cell line in the functional dissection of this unusual caspase and its prospective role in trophoblast differentiation.

publication date

  • January 2007