Reprogramming of genetic networks during initiation of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Dev Dyn. 2007 Feb;236(2):613-31. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.21048.


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are birth defects that result from maternal alcohol use. We used a non a priori approach to prioritize candidate pathways during alcohol-induced teratogenicity in early mouse embryos. Two C57BL/6 substrains (B6J, B6N) served as the basis for study. Dosing pregnant dams with alcohol (2x 2.9 g/kg ethanol spaced 4 hr on day 8) induced FASD in B6J at a higher incidence than B6N embryos. Counter-exposure to PK11195 (4 mg/kg) significantly protected B6J embryos but slightly promoted FASD in B6N embryos. Microarray transcript profiling was performed on the embryonic headfold 3 hr after the first maternal alcohol injection (GEO data series accession GSE1074). This analysis revealed metabolic and cellular reprogramming that was substrain-specific and/or PK11195-dependent. Mapping ethanol-responsive KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) pathways revealed down-regulation of ribosomal proteins and proteasome, and up-regulation of glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway in B6N embryos; and significant up-regulation of tight junction, focal adhesion, adherens junction, and regulation of the actin cytoskeleton (and near-significant up-regulation of Wnt signaling and apoptosis) pathways in both substrains. Expression networks constructed computationally from these altered genes identified entry points for EtOH at several hubs (MAPK1, ALDH3A2, CD14, PFKM, TNFRSF1A, RPS6, IGF1, EGFR, PTEN) and for PK11195 at AKT1. Our findings are consistent with the growing view that developmental exposure to alcohol alters common signaling pathways linking receptor activation to cytoskeletal reorganization. The programmatic shift in cell motility and metabolic capacity further implies cell signals and responses that are integrated by the mitochondrial recognition site for PK11195.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Computational Biology
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Eye / embryology
  • Eye / pathology
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / genetics
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / metabolism*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / pathology
  • Fetal Weight / drug effects
  • Fetal Weight / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / drug effects*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics
  • Genomics / methods
  • Isoquinolines / pharmacology*
  • Isoquinolines / toxicity
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Species Specificity


  • Isoquinolines
  • Ethanol
  • PK 11195