Alcohol exposure during pregnancy may cause congenital heart disease (CHD). In our previous studies, we found that alcohol selectively increased acetylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9) and enhanced the expression of heart development-related genes in cardiac progenitor cells. The objective of this study is to investigate the protective effects of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) inhibitor, curcumin, on histone hyperacetylation and the over-expression of heart development genes induced by alcohol. Western blot analysis was employed to detect the acetylation levels of histone H3K9 and real-time PCR was applied to measure the expressions of heart development-related transcription factors, GATA4, Mef2c and Tbx5 (GMT). Our results showed that alcohol increased the acetylation of H3K9 by 2.76-fold (P<0.05) and significantly enhanced the expression of GATA4 and Mef2c (P<0.05). When cells were treated with alcohol plus 25 μM curcumin, the hyperacetylation of H3K9 and over-expression of GATA4 and Mef2c by alcohol was reversed. These data indicate that curcumin can correct the over-expression of cardiac genes by reversing the alcohol induced hyperacetylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 in cardiac progenitor cells, suggesting that curcumin is protective against alcohol-induced cardiac gene over-expression that may result in heart malformations.
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