Sex-specific changes in gene expression and delayed sex differentiation in response to estrogen pollution in grayling (Salmonidae)


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Sex-specific changes in gene expression and delayed sex differentiation in response to estrogen pollution in grayling (Salmonidae)
Selmoni O. M., Maitre D., Roux J., Wilkins L. G. E., Marques da Cunha L., Vermeirssen E. L. M., Knörr S., Robinson-Rechavi M., Wedekind C.
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(SO & DM shared first authors; MRR & CW shared senior authors)
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(S.O. & D.M. : shared first authors; MRR & CW: shared senior authors)
The synthetic 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2) is an estrogenic compound of oral contraceptives and therefore a common pollutant that has been suspected to affect the demography of river-dwelling salmonids. We study a population of European grayling (Thymallus thymallus) that suffers from sex ratio distortions. Here we test how ecologically relevant concentrations of EE2 affect sex-specific gene expression around early stages of sex differentiation. We collected gametes from F1s of wild spawners, used them for in vitro fertilizations, and raised the resulting embryos singly under experimentally controlled conditions. Embryos were either exposed to 1ng/L EE2 or sham-exposed. RNA was collected from samples taken 10 days before hatching, at the day of hatching, and towards the end of the yolk-sac stage, to study gene expression and relate it to genetic sex (sdY genotype). We found that EE2 affects gene expression of a very large number of genes especially at the day of hatching. The effects of EE2 on gene expression is strongly sex-specific. At the day of hatching, EE2 affected about twice as many genes in females than in males, and towards the end of the yolk-sac larval stage, EE2 effects were nearly exclusively observed in females. Among the many effects was, for example, a surprising EE2-induced molecular masculinization in the females’ heads. Histological examination of gonadal development of EE2-treated or sham-exposed juveniles during the first 4.5 months after hatching revealed a delaying effect of EE2 on sex differentiation. Because grayling sex determination goes through an all-male stage (a rare case of undifferentiated gonochorism), the rate of EE2-induced sex reversal could not be unequivocally determined during the observational period. However, two EE2-treated genetic males had ovarian tissues at the end of the study. We conclude that common levels of EE2 pollution affect grayling from very early stages on by interfering with male and female gene expression around the onset of sex differentiation, by delaying sex differentiation, and by feminizing some males.
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29/05/2017 11:19
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21/08/2019 6:09
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