Limited nutrient availability is a cause of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a condition that has important implications for the wellbeing of the offspring. Using the established IUGR model of maternal fasting in the rat, we investigated mechanisms that control gene expression and mRNA translation in late gestation fetal liver. Maternal fasting for 48 hr during the last third of gestation was associated with a 10-15% reduction in fetal body weight and a disproportionate one third reduction in total fetal liver protein. The fetal liver transcriptome showed only subtle changes consistent with reduced cell proliferation and enhanced differentiation in IUGR. Effects on the transcriptome could not be attributed to specific transcription factors. We purified translating polysomes to profile the population of mRNAs undergoing active translation. Microarray analysis of the fetal liver translatome indicated a global reduction of translation. The only targeted effect was enhanced translation of mitochondrial ribosomal proteins in IUGR, consistent with enhanced mitochondrial biogenesis. There was no evidence for attenuated signaling through the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Western blotting showed no changes in fetal liver mTOR signaling. However, eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) phosphorylation was increased in livers from IUGR fetuses, consistent with a role in global translation control. Our data indicate that IUGR-associated changes in hepatic gene expression and mRNA translation likely involve a network of complex regulatory mechanisms, some of which are novel and distinct from those that mediate the response of the liver to nutrient restriction in the adult rat.
- protein synthesis
- translation initiation
- gene expression
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology