DOCK1 insufficiency disrupts trophoblast function and pregnancy outcomes via DUSP4-ERK pathway

Yichi Xu, Xiaorui Liu, Weihong Zeng, Yueyue Zhu, Junpeng Dong, Fan Wu, Cailian Chen, Surendra Sharma, Yi Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abnormal trophoblast function is associated with diseases such as recurrent spontaneous abortion, pre-eclampsia, and preterm birth, and endangers maternal and fetal health. However, the underlying regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we found DOCK1 expression is decreased in the placental villi of patients with recurrent spontaneous abortion, and that its expression determined the invasive properties of extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs), highlighting a previously unknown role of DOCK1 in regulating EVT function. Furthermore, DOCK1 deficiency disturbed the ubiquitinated degradation of DUSP4, leading to its accumulation. This caused inactivation of the ERK signaling pathway, resulting in inadequate EVT migration and invasion. DOCK1 was implicated in regulating the ubiquitin levels of DUSP4, possibly by modulating the E3 ligase enzyme HUWE1. The results of our in vivo experiments confirmed that the DOCK1 inhibitor TBOPP caused miscarriage in mice by inactivating the DUSP4/ERK pathway. Collectively, our results revealed the crucial role of DOCK1 in the regulation of EVT function via the DUSP4-ERK pathway and a basis for the development of novel treatments for adverse pregnancy outcomes caused by trophoblast dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202302247
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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