Genetic analysis of L-ethionine-mediated induction of alpha-fetoprotein in mice

Randy C. Mifflin, Peter C. Moller, John Papaconstantinou

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11 Scopus citations


Two genetic loci regulate hepatic α-fetoprotein (AFP) mRNA levels in adult mice. The raf locus controls basal levels and the Rif locus determines the degree of induction during liver regeneration. We have investigated the function of each locus during L-ethionine-mediated AFP induction using adult female mice with different Rif/raf genotypes. A single intraperitoneal injection of L-ethionine (0.5 mg/g body weight) resulted in significant triglyceride accumulation in hepatic parenchymal cells and increased AFP synthesis 48-96 h following injection. Hepatic AFP mRNA levels in Balb/cJ mice (high basal level/high induction level during regeneration) were 10- to 30- fold higher than Balb/cCRBL or C3H/He mice (low basal level/high induction level) following ethionine injection, indicating that raf-mediated differences persisted throughout the course of acute ethionine poisoning. The magnitude of this induction was similar to that seen during carbon tetrachloride-induced regeneration. In contrast, C57BL/6 mice (low basal level/low induction level during regeneration) contained hepatic AFP mRNA levels similar to Balb/cCRBL and C3H/He mice following ethionine injection. Thus, Rif-dependent differences seen during liver regeneration were not seen during acute ethionine poisoning. This leads us to conclude that (1) hepatic AFP mRNA induction by ethionine may not be mediated by the Rif locus if Rif is a transcriptional inducer, or (2) if Rif is a transcriptional repressor, it is inactivated equally in all strains during acute ethionine poisoning, unlike during liver regeneration. Hepatic albumin mRNA levels were not affected by ethionine treatment in vivo. L-Ethionine elevated AFP mRNA levels in primary mouse hepatocyte cultures; however, ethionine treatment also increased albumin mRNA levels in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-566
Number of pages14
JournalSomatic Cell and Molecular Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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