Gender-specific effect of mthfr genotype and neonatal vigabatrin interaction on synaptic proteins in mouse cortex

Elinor Blumkin, Tamar Levav-Rabkin, Osnat Melamed, Dalia Galron, Hava M. Golan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Scopus citations


    The enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a part of the homocysteine and folate metabolic pathways, affecting the methylations of DNA, RNA, and proteins. Mthfr deficiency was reported as a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. Neonatal disruption of the GABAergic system is also associated with behavioral outcomes. The interaction between the epigenetic influence of Mthfr deficiency and neonatal exposure to the GABA potentiating drug vigabatrin (GVG) in mice has been shown to have gender-dependent effects on mice anxiety and to have memory impairment effects in a gender-independent manner. Here we show that Mthfr deficiency interacts with neonatal GABA potentiation to alter social behavior in female, but not male, mice. This impairment was associated with a gender-dependent enhancement of proteins implicated in excitatory synapse plasticity in the female cortex. Reelin and fragile X mental retardation 1 protein (FMRP) levels and membrane GluR1/GluR2 ratios were elevated in wild-type mice treated neonatally with GVG and in Mthfr/ mice treated with saline, but not in Mthfr/ mice treated with GVG, compared with control groups (wild type treated with saline). A minor influence on the levels of these proteins was observed in male mice cortices, possibly due to high basal protein levels. Interaction between gender, genotype, and treatment was also observed in the GABA pathway. In female mice, GABA Aα2/gephyrin ratios were suppressed in all test groups; in male mice, a genotype-specific enhancement of GABA Aα2/gephyrin was observed. The lack of an effect on either reln or Fmr1 transcription suggests post-transcriptional regulation of these genes. Taken together, these findings suggest that Mthfr deficiency may interact with neonatal GABA potentiation in a gender-dependent manner to interrupt synaptic function. This may illustrate a possible mechanism for the epigenetic involvement of Mthfr deficiency in neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1714-1728
    Number of pages15
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - 1 Jul 2011


    • FMR1
    • GluR1
    • cerebral cortex
    • reelin
    • sociability


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