Expression and Metabolic Profiles in a Panel of Five Neural Tube Defect Mouse Models
ABSTRACT: Neural tube defects (NTDs) are serious birth defects with an estimated worldwide incidence of 1 per 1,000 live births. The multifactorial nature of NTDs in humans has made it difficult to elucidate pathogenesis mechanisms. However, a strong relationship has been established between folate-homocysteine metabolism and NTD risk. Prevention of a substantial proportion of fetal NTDs can be achieved through maternal folic acid (FA) supplementation. However the mechanism by which FA exerts its beneficial effect remains unclear. METHODS: To improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of NTD pathogenesis and the ways in which folate exerts its beneficial effect, we analyzed mRNA profiles as well as folate and vitamin B12 levels in five NTD mouse mutants whose response to dietary FA was previously established. RESULTS: Differentially expressed genes representing the effect of each NTD-causing mutation were identified and associated with biologic pathways. Interestingly, the panel of NTD mutants collectively revealed pathways related to two nuclear receptors, retinoid X receptor (RXR) and pregnane X receptor (PXR), suggesting that these pathways may be related to a shared mechanism of NTD development. Moreover, the NTD-causing mutations that were associated with FA responsiveness had expression profiles that were related to folate-homocysteine metabolic pathways. These pathways were not strongly associated with mutants that do not respond to FA supplementation, implying that FA may be beneficial when the NTD mutation affects pathways related to folate-homocysteine metabolism. 5 groups of NTD mutants were studied. From each mutant group Heterozygous (test) and wild-type (control) female pups were used for this study at 6-8 weeks of age. 4 biological replicates were used for each of the test and control groups of each mutant. All mice used for the experiments were fasted 4-5 hours before dissection. A total of 36 samples were analyzed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Neural tube defects (NTDs) are clinically significant congenital malformations which are known to be folic acid (FA) responsive, such that supplementation significantly reduces the prevalence of NTDs. Nonetheless, some individuals fail to respond to FA supplementation; hence NTDs remain a significant public health concern. The mechanisms that underlie the beneficial effects of FA supplementation remain poorly understood. Mouse models have been used extensively to study the mechanisms driving neural tube closure (NTC). METHODS:Microarray data of GSE51285 was downloaded from the NCBI GEO database, which contains the RNA expression profiles of livers from five NTD mouse mutants (heterozygous females) and their corresponding wildtype (WT) controls. Those five NTD mutants have different responsiveness to FA supplementation. The differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between NTD heterozygous and WT mice, as well as the DEGs between FA-responsive and FA-resistant mutants were carefully examined. Weighted gene correlation network analysis (WGCNA) was performed in order to identify genes with high correlations to either FA responsiveness or NTDs, respectively. RESULTS:In total, we identified 18 genes related to the pathogenesis of NTDs, as well as 55 genes related to FA responsiveness. Eight more candidate genes (Abcc3, Gsr, Gclc, Mthfd1, Gart, Bche, Slc25a32, and Slc44a2) were identified by examining the DEGs of those genes involved in the extended folate metabolic pathway between FA-responsive and FA-resistant mutants. CONCLUSIONS:Those genes are involved in mitochondrial choline metabolism, de novo purine synthesis, and glutathione generation, suggesting that formate, choline, and manipulating antioxidant levels may be effective interventions in FA-resistant NTDs.
Project description:Periconceptional supplementation with folic acid reduces the occurrence of neural tube defects (NTDs). The association between maternal abnormalities in homocysteine metabolism (e.g., hyperhomocysteinaemia, folate deficiency and low vitamin B12) and the risk of NTDs-affected pregnancies has been widely evaluated in recent years, although the results are conflicting. To investigate this inconsistency, we performed a meta-analysis of 32 studies, involving 1,890 NTD-affected mothers and 3,995 control mothers, to develop an understanding of the relationship between maternal biomarkers related to one-carbon metabolism and NTD. A random-effects model was used to calculate the ratio of means (RoM) between the cases and controls, along with the 95% confidence intervals (CIs). A significant increase in homocysteine levels was observed in NTD-affected mothers compared with controls (RoM: 1.16, 95% CI: 1.09-1.23, P = 1.8 × 10(-6)). The pooled analysis also revealed that NTD-affected mothers had significantly lower levels of folate (RoM: 0.93, 95% CI: 0.88-0.97, P = 0.002), vitamin B12 (RoM: 0.91, 95% CI: 0.87-0.95, P = 3.6 × 10(-5)) and red blood cell folate (RoM: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.86-0.98, P = 0.01). Therefore, altered plasma levels of biomarkers related to one-carbon metabolism are associated with NTD-affected pregnancies.
Project description:Periconceptional folic acid (FA) supplementation significantly reduces the prevalence of neural tube defects (NTDs). Unfortunately, some NTDs are FA resistant, and as such, NTDs remain a global public health concern. Previous studies have identified SLC25A32 as a mitochondrial folate transporter (MFT), which is capable of transferring tetrahydrofolate (THF) from cellular cytoplasm to the mitochondria in vitro. Herein, we show that gene trap inactivation of Slc25a32 (Mft) in mice induces NTDs that are folate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate, 5-mTHF) resistant yet are preventable by formate supplementation. Slc25a32gt/gt embryos die in utero with 100% penetrant cranial NTDs. 5-mTHF supplementation failed to promote normal neural tube closure (NTC) in mutant embryos, while formate supplementation enabled the majority (78%) of knockout embryos to complete NTC. A parallel genetic study in human subjects with NTDs identified biallelic loss of function SLC25A32 variants in a cranial NTD case. These data demonstrate that the loss of functional Slc25a32 results in cranial NTDs in mice and has also been observed in a human NTD patient.
Project description:Folic acid supplementation prevents the occurrence and recurrence of neural tube defects (NTDs), but the causal metabolic pathways underlying folic acid-responsive NTDs have not been established. Serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT1) partitions folate-derived one-carbon units to thymidylate biosynthesis at the expense of cellular methylation, and therefore SHMT1-deficient mice are a model to investigate the metabolic origin of folate-associated pathologies.We examined whether genetic disruption of the Shmt1 gene in mice induces NTDs in response to maternal folate and choline deficiency and whether a corresponding disruption in de novo thymidylate biosynthesis underlies NTD pathogenesis.Shmt1 wild-type, Shmt1(+/-), and Shmt1(-/-) mice fed either folate- and choline-sufficient or folate- and choline-deficient diets were bred, and litters were examined for the presence of NTDs. Biomarkers of impaired folate metabolism were measured in the dams. In addition, the effect of Shmt1 disruption on NTD incidence was investigated in Pax3(Sp) mice, an established folate-responsive NTD mouse model.Shmt1(+/-) and Shmt1(-/-) embryos exhibited exencephaly in response to maternal folate and choline deficiency. Shmt1 disruption on the Pax3(Sp) background exacerbated NTD frequency and severity. Pax3 disruption impaired de novo thymidylate and purine biosynthesis and altered amounts of SHMT1 and thymidylate synthase protein.SHMT1 is the only folate-metabolizing enzyme that has been shown to affect neural tube closure in mice by directly inhibiting folate metabolism. These results provide evidence that disruption of Shmt1 expression causes NTDs by impairing thymidylate biosynthesis and shows that changes in the expression of genes that encode folate-dependent enzymes may be key determinates of NTD risk.
Project description:Neural tube defects (NTDs), a common birth defect in humans, result from the failure of the embryonic neural tube (NT) to close properly. NT closure is a complex, poorly understood morphogenetic process influenced by genes and environment. The most effective environmental influence in decreasing the risk for NTDs is folic acid (FA) fortification and supplementation, and these findings led to the recommendation of periconceptual FA intake and mandatory fortification of the US grain supply in 1998. To explore the relationship between genetics and responsiveness to FA supplementation, we used five mouse NTDs models-Zic2, Shroom3, Frem2, Grhl2 (Grainyhead-like 2) and L3P (Line3P)-and a long-term generational FA supplementation scheme. Contrary to expectations, we find that three genetic mutants respond adversely to FA supplementation with increased incidence of NTDs in homozygous mutants, occurrence of NTDs in heterozygous embryos and embryonic lethality prior to NT closure. Because of these unexpected responses, we examined NTD risk after short-term FA supplementation. Our results indicate that, for the same genetic allele, NTD risk can depend on the length of FA exposure. Our data indicate that, depending on the gene mutation, FA supplementation may adversely influence embryonic development and NT closure.
Project description:Despite compelling epidemiological evidence that folic acid supplements reduce the frequency of neural tube defects (NTDs) in newborns, common variant association studies with folate metabolism genes have failed to explain the majority of NTD risk. The contribution of rare alleles as well as genetic interactions within the folate pathway have not been extensively studied in the context of NTDs. Thus, we sequenced the exons in 31 folate-related genes in a 480-member NTD case-control population to identify the full spectrum of allelic variation and determine whether rare alleles or obvious genetic interactions within this pathway affect NTD risk. We constructed a pathway model, predetermined independent of the data, which grouped genes into coherent sets reflecting the distinct metabolic compartments in the folate/one-carbon pathway (purine synthesis, pyrimidine synthesis, and homocysteine recycling to methionine). By integrating multiple variants based on these groupings, we uncovered two provocative, complex genetic risk signatures. Interestingly, these signatures differed by race/ethnicity: a Hispanic risk profile pointed to alterations in purine biosynthesis, whereas that in non-Hispanic whites implicated homocysteine metabolism. In contrast, parallel analyses that focused on individual alleles, or individual genes, as the units by which to assign risk revealed no compelling associations. These results suggest that the ability to layer pathway relationships onto clinical variant data can be uniquely informative for identifying genetic risk as well as for generating mechanistic hypotheses. Furthermore, the identification of ethnic-specific risk signatures for spina bifida resonated with epidemiological data suggesting that the underlying pathogenesis may differ between Hispanic and non-Hispanic groups.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Women with a previous neural tube defect (NTD)-affected pregnancy are recommended to consume 4,000??g daily folic acid (FA) for prevention (10 times the general-population recommendation). Protection from doses between 400 and 4,000??g for this and other higher risk groups is unclear. METHODS:In the case-control Slone Birth Defects Study (1988-2015), we examined the associations between periconceptional FA doses and NTDs among four higher risk groups: NTD family history, periconceptional antiepileptic drug exposure (AED), pregestational diabetes, and prepregnancy obesity. Mothers completed standardized interviews about pregnancy events and exposures. FA categorizations were based on (a) supplements only and (b) supplements and diet ("total folate"). We estimated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) (adjusted for age and study center) using logistic regression. RESULTS:Cases and controls included: 45 and 119 with family history, 25 and 108 with AED exposure, 12 and 63 with pregestational diabetes, 111 and 1,243 with obesity. Daily FA supplementation was associated with lower NTD risk compared to no supplementation (adjusted ORs were 0.33 [95% CI 0.13, 0.76] for family history, 0.31 [0.09, 0.95] for AED exposure, 0.25 [0.04, 1.05] for pregestational diabetes, 0.65 [0.40, 1.04] for obesity). Though estimates were imprecise, as total folate increased stronger point estimates were observed, notably among family history. No mothers with a prior NTD-affected pregnancy supplemented with 4,000??g. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings reinforce that all women of childbearing potential should consume at least 400??g FA/day to protect against NTDs. Higher risk groups may benefit from higher doses.
Project description:Folic acid prevents neural tube closure defects (NTDs), but the causal metabolic pathways have not been established. Serine hydroxymethyltransferase 1 (SHMT1) is an essential scaffold protein in folate-dependent de novo thymidylate synthesis in the nucleus. SHMT1-deficient mice provide a model to investigate folic acid-responsive NTDs wherein disruption of de novo thymidylate synthesis impairs neural tube closure.We examined the effects of maternal supplementation with the pyrimidine nucleosides uridine, thymidine, or deoxyuridine with and without folate deficiency on NTD incidence in the Shmt1 mouse model.Shmt1(+/+) and Shmt1(-/-) female mice fed folate-replete or folate-deficient diets and supplemented with uridine, thymidine, or deoxyuridine were bred, and litters (n = 10-23 per group) were examined for the presence of NTDs. Biomarkers of impaired folate status and metabolism were measured, including plasma nucleosides, hepatic uracil content, maternal plasma folate concentrations, and incorporation of nucleoside precursors into DNA.Shmt1(+/-) and Shmt1(-/-) embryos from dams fed the folate-deficient diet were susceptible to NTDs. No NTDs were observed in litters from dams fed the folate-deficient diet supplemented with deoxyuridine. Surprisingly, uridine supplementation increased NTD incidence, independent of embryo genotype and dietary folic acid. These dietary nucleosides did not affect maternal hepatic uracil accumulation in DNA but did affect plasma folate concentrations.Maternal deoxyuridine supplementation prevented NTDs in dams fed the folate-deficient diet, whereas maternal uridine supplementation increased NTD incidence, independent of folate and embryo genotype. These findings provide new insights into the metabolic impairments and mechanisms of folate-responsive NTDs resulting from decreased Shmt1 expression.
Project description:Folate hydrolase 1 (FOLH1) gene encodes intestinal folate hydrolase, which regulates intestinal absorption of dietary folate. Previous studies on the association between polymorphisms rs202676 and rs61886492 and the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) were inconclusive. A case-control study of women with NTD-affected pregnancies (n = 160) and controls (n = 320) was conducted in the Chinese population of Lvliang, a high-risk area for NTDs. We genotyped the polymorphic sites rs202676 and rs61886492 and assessed maternal plasma folate and total homocysteine (tHcy). Our results showed that in case group, plasma folate concentrations were 18 % lower compared with those of control group (8.32 vs. 6.79 nmol/L, p = 0.033) and tHcy concentrations were 17 % higher (10.47 vs. 12.65 ?mol/L, p = 0.047). Almost all samples had the rs61886492 GG genotype (99.78 %). The result showed that the frequency of GG genotype in rs202676 was significantly higher in group with multiple NTDs than in controls (p = 0.030, OR = 2.157, 95 % CI, 1.06-4.38). The multiple-NTD group showed higher maternal plasma concentrations of tHcy (10.47 vs. 13.96 ?mol/L, p = 0.024). The GG genotype of rs202676 had a lower maternal folate and higher tHcy concentrations than other genotypes with no significant differences. The result of structural prediction indicated that this variation might change the spatial structure of the protein. These results suggested that the maternal polymorphism rs202676 was a potential risk factor for multiple NTDs in this Chinese population. The allele G might affect maternal plasma folate and tHcy concentration.
Project description:Risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) is determined by genetic and environmental factors, among which folate status appears to play a key role. However, the precise nature of the link between low folate status and NTDs is poorly understood, and it remains unclear how folic acid prevents NTDs. We investigated the effect of folate level on risk of NTDs in splotch (Sp(2)(H)) mice, which carry a mutation in Pax3. Dietary folate restriction results in reduced maternal blood folate, elevated plasma homocysteine and reduced embryonic folate content. Folate deficiency does not cause NTDs in wild-type mice, but causes a significant increase in cranial NTDs among Sp(2)(H) embryos, demonstrating a gene-environment interaction. Control treatments, in which intermediate levels of folate are supplied, suggest that NTD risk is related to embryonic folate concentration, not maternal blood folate concentration. Notably, the effect of folate deficiency appears more deleterious in female embryos than males, since defects are not prevented by exogenous folic acid. Folate-deficient embryos exhibit developmental delay and growth retardation. However, folate content normalized to protein content is appropriate for developmental stage, suggesting that folate availability places a tight limit on growth and development. Folate-deficient embryos also exhibit a reduced ratio of s-adenosylmethionine (SAM) to s-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH). This could indicate inhibition of the methylation cycle, but we did not detect any diminution in global DNA methylation, in contrast to embryos in which the methylation cycle was specifically inhibited. Hence, folate deficiency increases the risk of NTDs in genetically predisposed splotch embryos, probably via embryonic growth retardation.