Prenatal exposure to Diethylstilboestrol (DES) is known to cause altered immune functions and increased susceptibility to autoimmune disease in humans. In the current study, we investigated the effect of prenatal exposure to DES on thymocyte differentiation involving apoptotic pathways. Prenatal DES exposure caused thymic atrophy, apoptosis, and up-regulation of Fas and Fas ligand (FasL) expression in thymocytes. To examine the mechanism underlying DES-mediated regulation of Fas and FasL, we performed luciferase assays using T cells transfected with luciferase reporter constructs containing full-length Fas or FasL promoters. There was significant luciferase induction in the presence of Fas or FasL promoters after DES exposure. Further analysis demonstrated the presence of several cis-regulatory motifs on both Fas and FasL promoters. When DES-induced transcription factors were analyzed, estrogen receptor element (ERE), nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), nuclear factor of activated T cells (NF-AT), and activator protein-1 motifs on the Fas promoter, as well as ERE, NF-κB, and NF-AT motifs on the FasL promoter, showed binding affinity with the transcription factors. Electrophoretic mobility-shift assays were performed to verify the binding affinity of cis-regulatory motifs of Fas or FasL promoters with transcription factors. There was shift in mobility of probes (ERE or NF-κB2) of both Fas and FasL in the presence of nuclear proteins from DES-treated cells, and the shift was specific to DES because these probes failed to shift their mobility in the presence of nuclear proteins from vehicle-treated cells. Together, the current study demonstrates that prenatal exposure to DES triggers significant alterations in apoptotic molecules expressed on thymocytes, which may affect T-cell differentiation and cause long-term effects on the immune functions.
- Prenatal exposure of mice to diethylstilbestrol disrupts T-cell differentiation by regulating Fas/Fas ligand expression through estrogen receptor element and nuclear factor-κB motifs, NCBI, PMD: 22888145, doi: 10.1124/jpet.112.196121. Epub 2012 Aug 10. Full text PMC3477208 J Pharmacol Exp Ther. Nov 2012; 343(2): 351–361.
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