p53 Disruption Increases Uracil Accumulation in DNA of Murine Embryonic Fibroblasts and Leads to Folic Acid-Nonresponsive Neural Tube Defects in Mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Neural tube defects (NTDs) occur in nervous tissue during embryogenesis when the neural tube fails to close. Approximately 70% of all human NTDs can be prevented by folic acid (FA). Altered expression and/or function of the tumor suppressor protein p53 can lead to NTDs in mouse models. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine if dietary FA could rescue p53-/--induced NTDs in mice, and to determine the effect loss of p53 has on pathways in folate 1-carbon metabolism. METHODS: p53+/- female mice were randomly allocated and weaned onto either an FA-sufficient diet (2 mg/kg folic acid; +FA), or an FA-deficient diet (-FA). After 8 wk, the females were time-mated to p53-/- males. Embryos were examined at E12.5 for NTDs. Folate enzyme concentrations, nucleotide synthesis, uracil accumulation in DNA, and proliferation were measured in primary murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). The "n - 1" chi-square test was used to compare NTD percentages, whereas all other data were analyzed by Student t test, except where noted a multilevel-fit model was used. RESULTS: NTD rates of litters from dams consuming the +FA diet (20/46; 43%) did not differ from those of litters from dams consuming the -FA diet (14/35; 40%) (P > 0.05). p53-/- MEFs had 55% higher rates of folate-dependent de novo dTMP synthesis, a ∼2-fold higher accumulation of uracil in DNA, and a ∼30% higher rate of proliferation (P ≤ 0.05) than p53+/- MEFs independent of folate. CONCLUSIONS: p53-related NTDs are not FA responsive. Increased dTMP synthesis in p53-/- MEFs might not have been sufficient to meet the demands for thymidine triphosphate (dTTP) synthesis as evidenced by the elevated amounts of uracil in DNA. This study provides additional evidence that elevated uracil in DNA is a risk factor for NTDs.

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Lachenauer, E. R., Stabler, S. P., Field, M. S., & Stover, P. J.

citation count

  • 0

publication date

  • July 2020