Cardiac Abnormalities Induced by Zinc Deficiency Are Associated with Alterations in the Expression of Genes Regulated by the Zinc-Finger Transcription Factor GATA-4

Jodie Y. Duffy, G. J. Overmann, Carl L Keen, M. S. Clegg, G. P. Daston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Zinc (Zn) deficiency during pregnancy results in a wide variety of developmental abnormalities. The objective of this study was to determine if expression of cardiac developmental genes regulated by Zn-finger transcription factors could be modulated during dietary Zn deficiency. Rats were fed 0.5 (low Zn) or 90 (controls) μg Zn/g diet throughout pregnancy. Fetal development was examined and RNA isolated at gestation day (GD) 13 and 20. Cardiac abnormalities were detected at GD 20 in 82% of fetuses from dams fed low Zn diets compared with only 2% in controls. Cardiac developmental gene expression regulated by the Zn-finger transcription factor, GATA-4, was measured by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In GD 13 and 20 hearts, two genes critical for heart development, α-myosin heavy chain (α-MHC) and cardiac troponin I (cTnI), were down-regulated in Zn-deficient fetuses. Expression of α-MHC was 66 and 40% lower at GD 13 and 20, respectively, in fetuses from dams fed low Zn diets compared with fetuses from control dams (p<0.05). Fetal cardiac TnI RNA levels were reduced 40 and 45% at GD 13 and 20 in the Zn-deficient group compared with controls (p<0.05). Fetal cardiac transcript levels of GATA-4 and MHox, a gene regulated by a helix-loop-helix transcription factor, whose expressions are not Zn-dependent, were unaffected by diet. These data indicated that alterations in gene regulation might be an underlying mechanism of cardiac abnormalities. Dysfunction of other Zn-dependent transcription factors may be an integral part of the extensive teratogenesis associated with Zn deficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalBirth Defects Research Part B - Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology
Volume71
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2004

Keywords

  • Gene regulation
  • Heart development
  • Teratogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Toxicology
  • Cancer Research

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