The prolonged effects of maternal immune activation in response stressors during gestation on the offspring's molecular pathways after birth are beginning to be understood. An association between maternal immune activation and neurodevelopmental and behavior disorders such as autism and schizophrenia spectrum disorders has been detected in long-term gene dysregulation. The incidence of alternative splicing among neuropeptides and neuropeptide receptor genes, critical cell-cell signaling molecules, associated with behavior may compromise the replicability of reported maternal immune activation effects at the gene level. This study aims to advance the understanding of the effect of maternal immune activation on transcript isoforms of the neuropeptide system (including neuropeptide, receptor and connecting pathway genes) underlying behavior disorders later in life. Recognizing the wide range of bioactive peptides and functional receptors stemming from alternative splicing, we studied the effects of maternal immune activation at the transcript isoform level on the hippocampus and amygdala of three-week-old pigs exposed to maternal immune activation due to viral infection during gestation. In the hippocampus and amygdala, 29 and 9 transcript isoforms, respectively, had maternal immune activation effects (P-value < 0.01). We demonstrated that the study of the effect of maternal immune activation on neuropeptide systems at the isoform level is necessary to expose opposite effects among transcript isoforms from the same gene. Genes were maternal immune activation effects have also been associated with neurodevelopmental and behavior disorders. The characterization of maternal immune activation effects at the transcript isoform level advances the understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders and identifies precise therapeutic targets.
- Maternal immune activation
- Alternative splicing