Ezrin and its phosphorylated Thr567 form are key regulators of human extravillous trophoblast motility and invasion

Maral Ebrahimzadeh Asl Tabrizi, Janesh K. Gupta, Stephane Gross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The protein ezrin has been shown to enhance cancer cell motility and invasion leading to ma-lignant behaviours in solid tumours, but a similar regulatory function in the early physiological reproduction state is, however, much less clear. We speculated that ezrin may play a key role in promoting first-trimester extravillous trophoblast (EVT) migration/invasion. Ezrin, as well as its Thr567 phosphorylation, were found in all trophoblasts studied, whether primary cells or lines. Interestingly, the proteins were seen in a distinct cellular localisation in long, extended protru-sions in specific regions of cells. Loss-of-function experiments were carried out in EVT HTR8/SVneo and Swan71, as well as primary cells, using either ezrin siRNAs or the phosphory-lation Thr567 inhibitor NSC668394, resulting in significant reductions in both cell motility and cellular invasion, albeit with differences between the cells used. Our analysis further demon-strated that an increase in focal adhesion was, in part, able to explain some of the molecular mechanisms involved. Data collected using human placental sections and protein lysates further showed that ezrin expression was significantly higher during the early stage of placentation and, importantly, clearly seen in the EVT anchoring columns, further supporting the potential role of ezrin in regulating migration and invasion in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
Article number711
Number of pages31
Issue number5
Early online date23 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


  • cytoskeleton
  • ezrin
  • invasion
  • migration
  • motility
  • placenta
  • trophoblasts


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