Hippocampal transcriptome reveals novel targets of FASD pathogenesis
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INTRODUCTION: Prenatal alcohol exposure can contribute to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), characterized by a myriad of developmental impairments affecting behavior and cognition. Studies show that many of these functional impairments are associated with the hippocampus, a structure exhibiting exquisite vulnerability to developmental alcohol exposure and critically implicated in learning and memory; however, mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced hippocampal deficits remain poorly understood. By utilizing a high-throughput RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) approach to address the neurobiological and molecular basis of prenatal alcohol-induced hippocampal functional deficits, we hypothesized that chronic binge prenatal alcohol exposure alters gene expression and global molecular pathways in the fetal hippocampus. METHODS: Timed-pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to a pair-fed control (PF) or binge alcohol (ALC) treatment group on gestational day (GD) 4. ALC dams acclimatized from GDs 5-10 with a daily treatment of 4.5 g/kg alcohol and subsequently received 6 g/kg on GDs 11-20. PF dams received a once daily maltose dextrin gavage on GDs 5-20, isocalorically matching ALC counterparts. On GD 21, bilateral hippocampi were dissected, flash frozen, and stored at -80° C. Total RNA was then isolated from homogenized tissues. Samples were normalized to ~4nM and pooled equally. Sequencing was performed by Illumina NextSeq 500 on a 75 cycle, single-end sequencing run. RESULTS: RNA-seq identified 13,388 genes, of these, 76 genes showed a significant difference (p < 0.05, log2 fold change ≥2) in expression between the PF and ALC groups. Forty-nine genes showed sex-dependent dysregulation; IPA analysis showed among female offspring, dysregulated pathways included proline and citrulline biosynthesis, whereas in males, xenobiotic metabolism signaling and alaninine biosynthesis etc. were altered. CONCLUSION: We conclude that chronic binge alcohol exposure during pregnancy dysregulates fetal hippocampal gene expression in a sex-specific manner. Identification of subtle, transcriptome-level dysregulation in hippocampal molecular pathways offers potential mechanistic insights underlying FASD pathogenesis.
author list (cited authors)
Lunde‐Young, R., Ramirez, J., Naik, V., Orzabal, M., Lee, J., Konganti, K., ... Ramadoss, J.