Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Birth defects are the leading cause of infantile mortality, followed by neural tube defects (NTD) and congenital heart defects. Spina bifida and anencephaly are among the most common forms of NTD. NTD etiologies are complex, and are associated with both genetic and environmental factors. Polycomb group proteins are essential for vertebrate development; therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the role of PcGs in spinal cord morphogenesis in normal and all-trans-retinoic acid (RA)-treated fetal rat models of spina bifida. Pregnant rats were gavage-fed RA, resulting in fetal NTD, and embryos were obtained on day 15.5, 17.5, and 19.5. Western blot and immunohistochemistry were used to reveal PcGs expression in the normal and RA-treated E15.5-19.5 rat sacral cords. Western blot and immunohistochemistry revealed decreased EED, RNF2, SUZ12, and H3K27me3 expression in the normal, E15.5-19.5, rat sacral cords. In addition, the spinal cord of RA-treated rats during embryonic development exhibited altered PcGs protein expression. Administration of excess RA results in NTD. Our results suggest that the Polycomb proteins may be involved in spinal cord development.