S100P has been shown to be a marker for carcinogenesis where its expression in solid tumours correlates with metastasis and a poor patient prognosis. This protein’s role in any physiological process is, however, unknown. Here we first show that S100P is expressed both in trophoblasts in vivo as well as in some corresponding cell lines in culture. We demonstrate that S100P is predominantly expressed during the early stage of placental formation with its highest expression levels occurring during the first trimester of gestation, particularly in the invading columns and anchoring villi. Using gain or loss of function studies through overexpression or knockdown of S100P expression respectively, our work shows that S100P stimulates both cell motility and cellular invasion in different trophoblastic and first trimester EVT cell lines. Interestingly, cell invasion was seen to be more dramatically affected than cell migration. Our results suggest that S100P may be acting as an important regulator of trophoblast invasion during placentation. This finding sheds new light on a hitherto uncharacterized molecular mechanism which may, in turn, lead to the identification of novel targets that may explain why significant numbers of confirmed human pregnancies suffer complications through poor placental implantation.
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