Bruce Babiarz

Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience
Rutgers University
Division of Life Sciences
Nelson Biological Labs - C-214
604 Allison Road
Busch Campus
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8082
(732) 445-2805 (office)
(732) 445-3694 (FAX)


My laboratory is interested in the process of embryo implantation, using the mouse as a model system. Implantation involves the differentiation of the extra-embryonic trophectodermal cells to invasive trophoblast giant cells. These cells invade the uterine stroma establishing the implantation site by day 7.5 of development. By day 10.5, the invasive period ends and the trophoblast continues differentiation to a functional placenta. In response to this invasion, the uterine endometrial stroma differentiates to decidua. This tissue plays numerous roles, synthesizing hormones and contributing to the control of trophoblast invasion. Our work is directed towards understanding the interactions between the trophoblast, decidua, and extracellular matrix in controlling the invasion.


The current work in my laboratory focuses on the expression of the cathepsin proteinases (B and L) and their physiological inhibitors, the cystatins both in vivo and in vitro. We have found that both cathepsin B (CB) and cathepsin L (CL) are upregulated during differentiation of trophoblast giant cells in vivo. CB and CL are also expressed by the decidualizing stroma in areas associated with matrix remodeling and both CB message and protein are upregulated durng the apoptotic regression of the decidua in vivo. Work is currently in progress using in vitrosystems to study the control of the these enzymes and inhibitors. Using outgrowths of trophoblast giant cells from ectoplacental cone rudiments, we confirmed the upregulation of CB and CL during giant cell differentiation, associated with both the lysosomal compartment and as secreted pro-forms. The regulation of these enzymes in the rat trophoblast cell line (Rcho-1) and human trophoblast tumor cell line (JAR) is presently underway.

In vitro cultures of decidualizing stroma show similar upregulation of the cathepsins and cystatin C as observed in vivo. Relative to the control of this system, the effects of extracellular matrix and soluble signaling molecules (e.g. EGF, TGF-, FGF) on enzyme and/or inhibitor synthesis is being investigated. Preliminary results suggest that both EGF and TGF- induce cystatin C synthesis in decidual cultures, with FGF and fibronectin showing inhibitory effects.

Representative Publications:

Babiarz, B., Romagnano, L., and Kurilla, G. (1996) Localization and Expression of Fibronectin during Mouse Decidualization in vitro: Mechanisms of Cell:Matrix Interactions. Developmental Dynamics 206:330-342.

Romagnano, L., Afonso, S., and Babiarz, B. (1996) An in vitro System for the Study of Matrix Metalloproteinases during Decidualization in the Mouse. Biochemistry and Cell Biology 74:911-919.

Afonso, S., Romagnano, L., and Babiarz, B (1997) The Expression and Function of Cystatin C and Cathepsins B and L during Mouse Embryo Implantation and Placentation. Development 124:3415-3425.

Babiarz, B., Afonso, S., and Romagnano, L. (1998) Cellular Interactions and Cathepsin Proteinases in Mouse Embryo Implantation. Serono International Symposium, Embryo Implantation: Molecular, Cellular, and Clinical Aspects (DD Carson, editor), Springer-Verlag, NY. pp67-82.

Afonso, S., Romagnano, L., and Babiarz, B. (1999) Expression of Cathepsin Proteinases by Mouse Trophoblast In Vivo and In Vitro. Developmental Dynamics 216:374-384.

Afonso, S., Tovar, C., Romagnano, L., and Babiarz, B. (2001) The Control and Expression of Cystatin C by Mouse Decidual Cultures. (In Press - Molecular Reproduction and Development)


I offer Animal Histology (119:322) in the fall semester and participate in the undergraduate (199:460) and graduate (148:504) Developmental Biology courses in the spring semester. To visit my Histology web site use the link below.

Dr. B's Histo Review