CCN1 (CYR61) and CCN3 (NOV) signaling drives human trophoblast cells into senescence and stimulates migration properties

During placental development, continuous invasion of trophoblasts into the maternal compartment depends on the support of proliferating extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs). Unlike tumor cells, EVTs escape from the cell cycle before invasion into the decidua and spiral arteries. This study focused on the regulation properties of glycosylated and non-glycosylated matricellular CCN1 and CCN3, primarily for proliferation control in the benign SGHPL-5 trophoblast cell line, which originates from the first-trimester placenta. Treating SGHPL-5 trophoblast cells with the glycosylated forms of recombinant CCN1 and CCN3 decreased cell proliferation by bringing about G0/G1 cell cycle arrest, which was accompanied by the upregulation of activated Notch-1 and its target gene p21. Interestingly, both CCN proteins increased senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity and the expression of the senescence marker p16. The migration capability of SGHPL-5 cells was mostly enhanced in response to CCN1 and CCN3, by the activation of FAK and Akt kinase but not by the activation of ERK1/2. In summary, both CCN proteins play a key role in regulating trophoblast cell differentiation by inducing senescence and enhancing migration properties. Reduced levels of CCN1 and CCN3, as found in early-onset preeclampsia, could contribute to a shift from invasive to proliferative EVTs and may explain their shallow invasion properties in this disease.