DNA methylation and gene expression alterations in zebrafish embryos exposed to cadmium.

Affiliation

Bian X(1), Gao Y(2).
Author information:
(1)Key Laboratory of Pollution Process and Environmental Criteria of Ministry of Education and Tianjin Key Laboratory of Environmental Remediation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin, 300071, China.
(2)Key Laboratory of Pollution Process and Environmental Criteria of Ministry of Education and Tianjin Key Laboratory of Environmental Remediation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin, 300071, China. [Email]

Abstract

An unexplored attributing molecular mechanism of Cd toxicity is interference with the epigenetic machinery, such as DNA methylation, processes that are crucial for early fetal development. In order to investigate the effects of Cd on the expression of metallothionein (MT) and Dnmts transcripts, markers of DNA methylation, and signaling pathway gene expression, zebrafish embryos were exposed during 24 hours post-fertilization (starting at maximum 8-cell stage) to 0.0089, 0.089, and 0.89 μM Cd. The results showed that the Cd accumulation in zebrafish embryo reached a stable level after 12 hpf, and the Cd accumulation at individual time points was significantly different among different concentration groups. MT mRNA fold was significantly positive with the Cd content in embryos. We observed that the expression level of DNA methyltransferase (Dnmts) in the 0.089 μM Cd exposure group was significantly up-regulated. Dnmt1 expression was significantly up-regulated in the 0.89 μM Cd exposure group, and Dnmt3s expression and global methylation levels were significantly down-regulated. Cd up-regulated ErbB-3 gene expression, down-regulated ErbB-4 gene expression, and neutralized ErbB-1 gene expression. Cd activated Ca2+, MAPK-JUK, p38 MAP kinase, PI3K-AKT, and VEGF signaling pathway genes, indicating these pathway genes related to Cd exposure level. The results are helpful to clarify the molecular mechanism of DNA methylation in zebrafish embryo under metal pressure and further interference with the epigenetic machinery.