Placental Gene Expression Responses to Maternal Protein Restriction in the Mouse

C. P. Gheorghe, R. Goyal, J. D. Holweger, L. D. Longo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Objective: Maternal protein restriction has been shown to have deleterious effects on placental development, and has long-term consequences for the progeny. We tested the hypothesis that, by the use of microarray technology, we could identify specific genes and cellular pathways in the developing placenta that are responsive to maternal protein deprivation, and propose a potential mechanism for observed gene expression changes. Methods: We fed pregnant FVB/NJ mice from day post-coitum 10.5 (DPC10.5) to DPC17.5, an isocaloric diet containing 50% less protein than normal chow. We used the Affymetrix Mouse 430A_2.0 array to measure gene expression changes in the placenta. We functionally annotated the regulated genes, and examined over-represented functional categories and performed pathway analysis. For selected genes, we confirmed the microarray results by use of qPCR. Results: We observed 244 probe sets, corresponding to 235 genes, regulated by protein restriction (p < 0.001), with ninety-one genes being up-regulated, and 153 down-regulated. Up-regulated genes included those involved in the p53 pathway, apoptosis, negative regulators of cell growth, negative regulators of cell metabolism and genes related to epigenetic control. Down-regulated genes included those involved in nucleotide metabolism. Conclusions: Microarray analysis has allowed us to describe the genetic response to maternal protein deprivation in the mouse placenta. We observed that negative regulators of cell growth and metabolism in conjunction with genes involved in epigenesis were up-regulated, suggesting that protein deprivation may contribute to growth restriction and long-term epigenetic changes in stressed tissues and organs. The challenge will be to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of these gene expression responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-417
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene regulation
  • Microarray
  • Placenta
  • Protein restriction
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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