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Reprod Sci. 2011 Jun;18(6):563-76. doi: 10.1177/1933719110393025. Epub 2011 Jan 27.

Maternal undernourished fetal kidneys exhibit differential regulation of nephrogenic genes including downregulation of the Notch signaling pathway.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Maternal undernutrition results in offspring nephron number reduction and hypertension that are hypothesized to begin as compensatory changes in fetal gene expression during gestation. To evaluate mechanisms of dysregulated nephrogenesis, pregnant Sprague Dawley rats were 50% food restricted from embryonic day (E) 10 to E20. At E20, fetal male kidneys were examined by microarray analysis. A total of 476 differentially expressed transcripts were detected including those regulating development and differentiation, mitosis and cell cycle, chromatin assembly, and steroid hormone regulation. Differentially regulated genes were detected in MAPK/ERK, Wnt, and Notch signaling pathways. Validation of the microarray results was performed for the Notch signaling pathway, an important pathway in nephron formation. Protein expression of Notch pathway factors by Western blotting showed significantly decreased Notch2 and downstream effector Hey1 protein expression, while Ctbp1 co-repressor was increased. These data together show that maternal undernutrition results in developmental disruption in fetal nephrogenesis gene expression signaling.

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