Following hatching, pre-elongated conceptuses undergo elongation by intense proliferation, until implantation. We investigated the changes in gene expression associated with these physiological events using human cDNA arrays containing 2370 known genes. Comparison of pre-elongated, elongated, and implanting trophoblasts allowed the determination of 313 expressed genes, 63 of which were differentially regulated. These were classified into four functional families. Pre-elongated trophoblasts were characterized by preferential expression of genes involved in protein trafficking, whereas only latter developmental stages expressed cell signaling genes and receptors. Among the 63 developmentally regulated genes, four exhibited the highest levels of expression (TMSB10, CTNNA1, NMP1, and CX3CL1). Each of these also represents a functional family and display a specific expression pattern. One of them, CX3CL1 (CX3C chemokine, also known as fractalkine), is a chemokine that seems to have potential importance in trophoblast development, and which deserves further clarification of its role in implantation.
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