Isolating the role of elevated Phlda2 in asymmetric late fetal growth restriction in mice

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Abstract

Pleckstrin homology-like domain family A member 2 (PHLDA2) is a maternally expressed imprinted gene whose elevated expression has been linked to fetal growth restriction in a number of human studies. In mice, Phlda2 negatively regulates placental growth and limits the accumulation of placental glycogen. We previously reported that a three-copy transgene spanning the Phlda2 locus drove a fetal growth restriction phenotype late in gestation, suggesting a causative role for PHLDA2 in human growth restriction. However, in this mouse model, Phlda2 was overexpressed by fourfold, alongside overexpression of a second imprinted gene, Slc22a18. Here, we genetically isolate the role of Phlda2 in driving late fetal growth restriction in mice. We furthermore show that this Phlda2-driven growth restriction is asymmetrical, with a relative sparing of the brain, followed by rapid catch-up growth after birth, classic features of placental insufficiency. Strikingly, fetal growth restriction showed strain-specific differences, being apparent on the 129S2/SvHsd (129) genetic background and absent on the C57BL6 (BL6) background. A key difference between these two strains is the placenta. Specifically, BL6 placentae possess a more extensive endocrine compartment and substantially greater stores of placental glycogen. Taken together, these data support a direct role for elevated Phlda2 in limiting fetal growth but also suggest that growth restriction only manifests when there is limited placental reserve. These findings should be taken into account in interpreting the results from human studies.

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Tunster, S. J., Van De Pette, M., & John, R. M. (2014). Isolating the role of elevated Phlda2 in asymmetric late fetal growth restriction in mice. DMM Disease Models and Mechanisms, 7(10), 1185–1191. https://doi.org/10.1242/dmm.017079

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