The placenta is the essential organ of mammalian pregnancy and errors in its development and function are associated with a wide range of human pathologies of pregnancy. Genome sequencing has led to methods for investigation of the transcriptome (all expressed RNA species) using microarrays and next-generation sequencing, and implementation of these techniques has identified many novel species of RNA including: micro-RNA, long noncoding RNA, and circular RNA. These species can physically interact with both each other and regulatory proteins to modify gene expression and messenger RNA to protein translation. Transcriptome analysis is actively used to investigate placental development and dysfunction in pathologies ranging from preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction to preterm labor. Genome-wide gene expression analysis is also being applied to identify prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers of these disorders. In this comprehensive review we summarize transcriptome biology, methods of isolation and analysis, application to placental development and pathology, and use in diagnostic analysis in maternal blood. Key information for analysis methods is organized into quick reference tables where current analysis techniques and tools are cited and compared. We have created this review as a practical guide and starting reference for those interested in beginning an investigation into the transcriptome of the placenta.
Crown Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.