During early embryonic development, maternal exposure to hyperthermia induces neural tube defects (NTDs). Connexins are essential for the formation of gap junctions and Connexin43 (Cx43) is crucially involved in neural tube development. This study was designed to explore the potential role of Cx43 in NTDs induced by hyperthermia.
Using PCR, the Cx43 cDNA was screened from the cDNA library of the neural tube from golden hamsters treated with hyperthermia. By Northern blot, the expression of Cx43 in heat-treated and control groups of the golden hamsters at day 8.5 after mating was detected. Finally, by in situ hybridization and RT-PCR, the expression of Cx43 was examined in the neural tube at different time points after heat treatment.
Cx43 was stably expressed in heat-treated and control groups of the golden hamsters, whereas the expression was evidently higher in the heat-treated group. Cx43 expression in the neural tube at different time points after heat treatment was significantly higher than in control groups (p < 0.01). Hyperthermia did not induce any mutations in Cx43 cDNA.
Our data provide the first evidence that hyperthermia induces upregulation of Cx43 in the golden hamster neural tube. NTDs caused by hyperthermia may be intimately related with the overexpression of Cx43. Birth Defects Research (Part A) 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.