Serine racemase and D-serine transport in human placenta and evidence for a transplacental gradient for D-serine in humans
Chen, Z.; Huang, W.; Srinivas, S.R.; Jones, C.R.; Ganapathy, V.; Prasad, P.D.
Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation 11(5): 294-303
To investigate the possible role of human placenta in providing D-serine to the developing fetus. Expression of serine racemase in placenta was determined by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and northern analysis and confirmed by subsequent cloning. The transport of D-serine by human ATB(0) was characterized by expressing the cloned cDNA transiently in mammalian cells using the vaccinia virus expression system. D-serine levels in maternal and fetal blood were measured by fluorescence high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) after derivatization of the amino acids with o-phthaldialdehyde and N-tertiary-butyloxycarbonyl-L-cysteine. mRNA for serine racemase was detected in placenta. ATB(0) was capable of d-serine transport, and the transport process is obligatorily dependent on sodium (Na+) with a Na(+):substrate stoichiometry of 1:1 and saturable with a Michaelis-Menten constant of 310 +/- 30 microM. Furthermore, studies have shown that ATB(0) is not expressed in the maternal-facing brush border membrane of human placental syncytiotrophoblast. The circulating concentration of D-serine in maternal serum is 5.8 +/- 0.5 microM, and the corresponding value in the fetal serum is 14.6 +/- 1.2 microM, indicating a two- to three-fold higher concentration of D-serine in the fetus than in the mother. We speculate that D-serine is synthesized in human placenta by the racemization of L-serine and that ATB(0), expressed on the basal membrane of the syncytiotrophoblast, mediates the efflux of D-serine into the fetal circulation in exchange for other amino acids in fetal blood.