Sulforaphane protects against ethanol-induced apoptosis in neural crest cells through restoring epithelial-mesenchymal transition by epigenetically modulating the expression of Snail1.
Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2019 Jul 8 ;1865(10):2586-2594. Epub 2019 Jul 8. PMID: 31295528
Ethanol-induced apoptosis in neural crest cells (NCCs), a multipotent progenitor cell population, is implicated in the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Studies have demonstrated that sulforaphane (SFN) can prevent ethanol-induced apoptosis in NCCs. The objective of this study is to investigate whether ethanol exposure can induce apoptosis in NCCs by inhibiting epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and whether SFN can prevent ethanol-induced apoptosis by epigenetically modulating the expression of Snail1, a key transcriptional factor that promotes EMT. We found that ethanol exposure resulted in a significant increase in apoptosis in NCCs. Co-treatment with SFN significantly reduced ethanol-induced apoptosis. Treatment with SFN also dramatically diminished ethanol-induced changes in the expression of E-cadherin and vimentin, and restored EMT in ethanol-exposed NCCs. In addition, ethanol exposure reduced the levels of trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me3) at the promoters of Snail1. SFN treatment diminished the ethanol-induced reduction of H3K4me3 at the promoter regions of the Snail1 gene, restored the expression of Snail1 and down-regulated Snail1 target gene E-cadherin. Knockdown of Snail1 significantly reduced the protective effects of SFN on ethanol-induced apoptosis. These results demonstrate that SFN can protect against ethanol-induced apoptosis by preventing ethanol-induced reduction in the levels of H3K4me3 at the promoters of Snail1, restoring the expression of Snail1 and EMT in ethanol-exposed NCCs.