Bogdan J. Wlodarczyk is an assistant Professor at the Dell Pediatric Research Institute and holds a faculty position in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin. He is a reproductive toxicologist and uses animal models to study the mechanisms of birth defects.
Genetic basis of susceptibility to teratogen induced birth defects†
Version of Record online: 15 JUL 2011
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics
Special Issue: Emerging Issues in Teratology
Volume 157, Issue 3, pages 215–226, 15 August 2011
How to Cite
Wlodarczyk, B. J., Palacios, A. M., Chapa, C. J., Zhu, H., George, T. M. and Finnell, R. H. (2011), Genetic basis of susceptibility to teratogen induced birth defects. Am. J. Med. Genet., 157: 215–226. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.c.30314
How to cite this article: Wlodarczyk B, Palacios A, Chapa C, Zhu H, George TM, Finnell RH. 2011. Genetic basis of susceptibility to teratogen induced birth defects. Am J Med Genet Part C Semin Med Genet 157:215–226.
- Issue online: 19 JUL 2011
- Version of Record online: 15 JUL 2011
- birth defects;
- gene–environment interaction
Birth defects remain the leading cause of infant death in US. The field of teratology has been focused on the causes and underlying mechanisms of birth defects for decades, yet our understanding of these critical issues remain unacceptably vague. Conclusions from years of animal and human studies made it clear that the vast majority of birth defects have multifactorial origins, with contributions from environmental and genetic factors. The environment comprises not only of the physical, biological, and chemical external environment surrounding the pregnant woman, but it also includes the internal environment of the woman's body that interact with the developing embryo in a complex fashion. The importance of maternal and embryonic genetic factors consisting of countless genetic variants/mutations that exist within every individual contribute to birth defect susceptibility is only now being more fully appreciated. This great complexity of the genome and its diversity within individuals and populations seems to be the principal reason why the same teratogenic exposure can induce severe malformation in one embryo, while fail to do so to other exposed embryos. As the interaction between genetic and environmental factors has long been recognized as the first “Principle of Teratology” by Wilson and Warkany [1965. Teratology: Principles and techniques. Chicago: University of Chicago Press], it is only recently that the appropriate investigative tools have been developed with which to fully investigate this fundamental principle. The introduction of high throughput technologies like whole genome sequencing or genome-wide association studies are promising to deliver an enormous amount of new data that will shed light on the genomic factors that contribute susceptibility to environmental teratogens. In this review, we attempt to summarize the epidemiological and experimental literature concerning birth defects whose phenotypic expression can be clearly related to the interactions between several select environmental factors and those genetic pathways in which they are most likely to have significant modifying effects. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.