Human placental trophoblast is critically involved in mediating maternal tolerance of the fetal semiallograft. Genes encoding highly polymorphic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II antigens that could provoke maternal immune rejection responses are silenced in trophoblast. However, several MHC class I or class I-related products exhibiting reduced or negligible polymorphism are expressed and assumed to be functionally involved in maintaining pregnancy. The CD1 gene family encodes non-polymorphic MHC class I-like products that have the unusual ability to present non-peptide antigens to T cells. One member, CD1D, is expressed in certain epithelial cells and interacts with a specific T-cell subset that may promote the development of Th2-mediated responses believed to be associated with pregnancy. In this study we examined the expression of CD1D in human trophoblast cell lines and placentally derived trophoblast cells by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction using CD1D-specific oligonucleotide primers. We have found that CD1D mRNA transcripts are expressed in trophoblast cells and cell lines. We have also identified a novel alternatively spliced CD1D mRNA transcript lacking exon 4. Exon 4-intact and exon 4-deficient CD1D transcripts appear to be differentially expressed in different trophoblast and non-trophoblast cell populations. Our studies suggest that at least one member of the CD1 family is transcribed in human trophoblast
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