Electron microscope autoradiography has been used to study protein synthesis in syncytial and cellular trophoblast of term human placental villi incubated in vitro with tritiated leucine ([3H]leu). Autoradiographs were analyzed using the hypothetical grain analysis of Blackett and Parry (1973. J. Cell Biol. 57:9-15). The results of this study demonstrated that both cellular and syncytial trophoblast have marked capacities for protein synthesis. Cellular trophoblast synthesized protein in both its rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) and its ground plasm which contained abundant free ribosomes. The vast majority of 3H-proteins remained within the cell, with some of the proteins synthesized ultimately appearing in the nucleus. A small percentage of grains was ultimately associated with the trophoblast basement membrane. In syncytial trophoblast, the RER was the dominant site for protein synthesis. The autoradiographic data suggested that, as in the cellular trophoblast, the vast majority of 3H-proteins synthesized by the syncytial trophoblast remained within the syncytial trophoblast throughout the incubation period. The major portion of [3H]leu-labeling present in the syncytial trophoblast of villi incubated the longest times (4 h+) remained in association with the RER. Labeled proteins did not become concentrated in syncytial trophoblast Golgi apparatus, vesicles, or granules. In contrast to cellular trophoblast, the nuclei in the syncytium did not contain 3H-proteins at any time-point studied.

This content is only available as a PDF.