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Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2009 Apr;85(4):322-30. doi: 10.1002/bdra.20539.

Understanding the causes and prevention of neural tube defects: Insights from the splotch mouse model.

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Neural Development Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


Splotch mutant mice develop neural tube defects (NTDs), comprising exencephaly and/or spina bifida, as well as neural crest-related defects and abnormalities of limb musculature. Defects in splotch mice result from mutations in Pax3, and some human NTDs may also result from mutations in the human PAX3 gene. Pax3 encodes a transcription factor whose function may influence expression of multiple downstream genes associated with a variety of cellular properties (including apoptosis, adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation), that could be important for neural tube closure. The frequency of NTDs varies between mutant alleles and is also influenced by genetic background and environmental factors. Notably, splotch provides a model for folic acid-preventable NTDs, and conversely, dietary folate deficiency exacerbates NTDs. Understanding the molecular and cellular basis of splotch NTDs, as well as the mechanisms by which the frequency of defects is influenced by genetic and environmental factors (such as sub-optimal folate status), may provide insight into the causation of these severe congenital malformations in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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