Intrauterine growth restriction perturbs nucleosome depletion at a growth hormone-responsive element in the mouse IGF-1 gene

Physiol Genomics. 2015 Dec;47(12):634-43. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00082.2015. Epub 2015 Oct 20.


Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a common human pregnancy complication. IUGR offspring carry significant postnatal risk for early-onset metabolic syndrome, which is associated with persistent reduction in IGF-1 protein expression. We have previously shown that preadolescent IUGR male mice have decreased hepatic IGF-1 mRNA and circulating IGF-1 protein at postnatal day 21, the age when growth hormone (GH) normally upregulates hepatic IGF-1 expression. Here we studied nucleosome occupancy and CpG methylation at a putative growth hormone-responsive element in intron 2 (in2GHRE) of the hepatic IGF-1 gene in normal, sham-operated, and IUGR mice. Nucleosome occupancy and CpG methylation were determined in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and in liver at postnatal days 14, 21, and 42. For CpG methylation, additional time points out to 2 yr were analyzed. We confirmed the putative mouse in2GHRE was GH-responsive, and in normal mice, a single nucleosome was displaced from the hepatic in2GHRE by postnatal day 21, which exposed two STAT5b DNA binding sites. Nucleosome displacement correlated with developmentally programmed CpG demethylation. Finally, IUGR significantly altered the nucleosome-depleted region (NDR) at the in2GHRE of IGF-1 on postnatal day 21, with either complete absence of the NDR or with a shifted NDR exposing only one of two STAT5b DNA binding sites. An NDR shift was also seen in offspring of sham-operated mothers. We conclude that prenatal insult such as IUGR or anesthesia/surgery could perturb the proper formation of a well-positioned NDR at the mouse hepatic IGF-1 in2GHRE necessary for transitioning to an open chromatin state.

Keywords: DNA methylation; intrauterine growth restriction; nucleosome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / genetics*
  • Human Growth Hormone / genetics
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy


  • Nucleosomes
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I