BackgroundFolic 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.
ObjectiveWe 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.
DesignShmt1(+/+) 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.
ResultsShmt1(+/-) 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.
ConclusionsMaternal 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.
SUBMITTER: Martiniova L