Human molecular genetics

Maternal high-fat diet interacts with embryonic Cited2 genotype to reduce Pitx2c expression and enhance penetrance of left-right patterning defects.

PMID 20566713


Deficiency of the transcription factor Cited2 in mice results in cardiac malformation, adrenal agenesis, neural tube, placental defects and partially penetrant cardiopulmonary laterality defects resulting from an abnormal Nodal->Pitx2c pathway. Here we show that a maternal high-fat diet more than doubles the penetrance of laterality defects and, surprisingly, induces palatal clefting in Cited2-deficient embryos. Both maternal diet and Cited2 deletion reduce embryo weight and kidney and thymus volume. Expression profiling identified 40 embryonic transcripts including Pitx2 that were significantly affected by embryonic genotype-maternal diet interaction. We show that a high-fat diet reduces Pitx2c levels >2-fold in Cited2-deficient embryos. Taken together, these results define a novel interaction between maternal high-fat diet and embryonic Cited2 deficiency that affects Pitx2c expression and results in abnormal laterality. They suggest that appropriate modifications of maternal diet may prevent such defects in humans.