Effects of endocrine disruptors on imprinted gene expression in the mouse embryo

Epigenetics. 2011 Jul;6(7):937-50. doi: 10.4161/epi.6.7.16067. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


Environmental endocrine disruptors (EDs) are synthetic chemicals that resemble natural hormones and are known to cause epigenetic perturbations. EDs have profound effects on development and fertility. Imprinted genes had been identified as susceptible loci to environmental insults by EDs because they are functionally haploid, and because the imprints undergo epigenetic resetting between generations. To screen for possible epigenetic perturbations caused by EDs at imprinted loci, we treated pregnant mice daily between 8.5 and 12.5 days post coitum (dpc) with di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP), bisphenol A (BPA), vinclozolin (VZ), or control oil vehicle. After isolating RNA from the placenta, yolk sac, amnion, head, body, heart, liver, lung, stomach, and intestines of 13.5 dpc embryos we measured the allele-specific expression of 38 imprinted transcripts using multiplex single nucleotide primer extension (SNuPE) assays. In this representative data set we identified only a small number of transcripts that exhibited a substantial relaxation of imprinted expression with statistical significance: Slc22a18 with 10% relaxation in the embryo after BPA treatment; Rtl1as with 11 and 16% relaxation in the lung and placenta, respectively after BPA treatment; and Rtl1 with 12% relaxation in the yolk sac after DEHP treatment. Additionally, the standard deviation of allele-specificity increased in various organs after ED treatment for several transcripts including Igf2r, Rasgrf1, Usp29, Slc38a4, and Xist. Our data suggest that the maintenance of strongly biased monoallelic expression of imprinted genes is generally insensitive to EDs in the 13.5 dpc embryo and extra-embryonic organs, but is not immune to those effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / pharmacology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / metabolism
  • Endocrine Disruptors / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genomic Imprinting / drug effects
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Oxazoles / pharmacology
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Oxazoles
  • Phenols
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate
  • vinclozolin
  • bisphenol A