Maternal exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) causes the impairment of reproduction and development in the pups. Our previous studies have revealed that maternal treatment with TCDD attenuates the fetal production of pituitary gonadotropins (luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone) at gestational day (GD) 20, leading to the impairment of sexual behavior in adulthood. However, the mechanism underlying such a reduction has remained unknown until now. When pregnant rats at GD15 were given an oral dose of TCDD (1 μg/kg), the testicular expression of steroidogenic proteins was reduced between GD20 and postnatal days (PND) 2. In accordance with this, the pituitary expression of gonadotropin β-subunit and serum gonadotropin were also attenuated from GD20 to PND0 in a pup-specific fashion. To identify the target genes linked to a fetal reduction in gonadotropin β-subunit, we performed a DNA microarray analysis using the fetal pituitary and its regulatory organ, the hypothalamus. The results obtained showed that TCDD induced histone deacetylases (HDACs) in the fetal pituitary. In support with this, TCDD markedly deacetylated histones H3 and H4 twined around the promoter of the fetal LHβ gene. This effect was fetus- and LHβ-specific, and this was not observed in the maternal pituitary or for other pituitary hormone genes. Finally, an LHβ reduction caused by TCDD was completely restored by maternal co-treatment with valproic acid, an HDAC inhibitor. These results strongly suggest that the increased deacetylation of histone owing to HDAC induction plays a critical role in the TCDD-induced reduction in LHβ in the fetal pituitary.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology