HLA-G expression during preimplantation human embryo development

Andrea Jurisicova, Robert F. Casper, Neil J. Maclusky, Gordon B. Mills, Clifford L. Librach

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234 Scopus citations


HLA-G is a nonclassical class I major histocompatibility complex molecule with a restricted pattern of expression that includes the placental extravillus cytotrophoblast cells in direct contact with maternal tissues. Circumstantial evidence suggests that HLA-G may play a role in protection of the semiallogeneic human fetus. We examined whether HLA-G is expressed during the critical period of preimplantation human development and whether expression of this molecule could be correlated with the cleavage rate of embryos. Using reverse transcription PCR on surplus human embryos and unfertilized oocytes from patients undergoing in vitro fertilization we detected HLA-G heavy chain mRNA in 40% of 148 of blastocysts tested. The presence of HLA-G mRNA was also detected in unfertilized oocytes and in early embryos, but not in control cumulus oophorus cells. β2-Microglobulin mRNA was also found in those embryos expressing HLA-G. In concordance with our mRNA data, a similar proportion of embryos stained positive for HLA-G utilizing a specific monoclonal antibody. Interestingly, expression of HLA-G mRNA was associated with an increased cleavage rate, as compared to embryos lacking HLA-G transcript. Thus, HLA-G could be a functional homologue of the mouse Qa-2 antigen, which has been implicated in differences in the rate of preimplantation embryo development. To our knowledge, the presence of HLA-G mRNA and protein in human preimplantation embryos and oocytes has not been reported previously. The correlation of HLA-G mRNA expression with cleavage rate suggests that this molecule may play an important role in human pre- embryo development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-165
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • major histocompatibility complex
  • non-classical HLA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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