Fetal development relies on adequate iron supply by the placenta. The placental syncytiotrophoblasts (SCTB) express high levels of iron transporters, including ferroportin1 (Fpn1). Whether they are essential in the placenta has not been tested directly, mainly due to the lack of gene manipulation tools in SCTB. Here, we aimed to generate a SCTB-specific Cre mouse and use it to determine the role of placental Fpn1. Using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, we created a syncytin b (Synb) Cre line (SynbCre) targeting the fetal-facing SCTB layer in mouse placental labyrinth. SynbCre deleted Fpn1 in late gestation mouse placentas reliably with high efficiency. Embryos without placental Fpn1 were pale and runted, and died before birth. Fpn1 null placentas had reduced transferrin receptor expression, increased oxidative stress and detoxification responses, and accumulated ferritin in the SCTB instead of the fetal endothelium. In summary, we demonstrate that SynbCre is an effective and specific tool to investigate placental gene function in vivo. The loss of Fpn1 in late gestation mouse placenta is embryonically lethal, providing direct evidence for an essential role of Fpn1 in placental iron transport.

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