IntroductionPreeclampsia, a specific complication of pregnancy, is a leading cause of perinatal and maternal mortality worldwide. N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is a prevalent and reversible modification of mammalian mRNAs, and is known to play an important role in various physiological and pathological processes. However, little is known about its possible effects on trophoblasts in preeclampsia. MethodsColorimetric RNA m6A methylation quantification assay and dot blotting were used to assess the levels of global RNA m6A modification in placental tissues collected from females with normal pregnancy and preeclampsia, while the mRNA levels of major m6A methyltransferases/demethylases were investigated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. The effects of methyltransferase-like 14 (METTL14) on trophoblasts were evaluated using cell counting kit-8, transwell invasion assay, autophagic flux assay, and Annexin V/propidium iodide apoptosis assay. The molecular mechanism underlying the regulation of forkhead box O3a (FOXO3a) expression by METTL14 was determined using methylated RNA immunoprecipitation and transcription inhibition assays. ResultsGlobal RNA m6A methylation and METTL14 expression were significantly increased in placental tissues obtained from patients with preeclampsia. In vitro studies showed that overexpression of METTL14 in HTR-8/SVneo cells inhibited trophoblast proliferation and invasion, but induced trophoblast autophagy and apoptosis. We further demonstrated that METTL14 epigenetically elevated FOXO3a expression via an m6A-dependent mechanism. FOXO3a inhibition effectively prevented the impairment of trophoblast proliferation and invasion, and diminished the induction of trophoblast autophagy and apoptosis in METTL14-overexpressing HTR-8/SVneo cells. DiscussionIncreased METTL14-mediated m6A modification results in an adverse impact on trophoblast function by elevating FOXO3a expression.

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