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An epigenetic mechanism involved in temperature-induced sex ratio shifts in fish populations

AuthorsNavarro-Martín, Laia ; Viñas, Jordi ; Ribas, Laia ; Díaz, Noelia ; Gutiérrez, Arantxa; Di Croce, Luciano; Piferrer, Francesc
Issue Date17-May-2011
CitationComparative Morphology and Development Symposia (2010)
AbstractSex ratio shifts in response to temperature are common in fish and reptiles. However, the mechanism linking temperature during early development and sex ratios has remained elusive. We show in the European sea bass, a fish in which temperature effects on sex ratios are maximal before the gonads form, that males have double DNA methylation levels than females in the promoter of cyp19a, the gene coding for aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgens into estrogens. Exposure to high temperature increased the cyp19a promoter methylation levels of females, indicating that induced-masculinization involves DNA methylation-mediated control of aromatase gene expression, with an observed inverse relationship between methylation levels and expression. Although different CpGs within the cyp19a promoter exhibited different sensitivity to temperature, we show that the increased methylation of the cyp19a promoter, which occurs in the gonads but not in the brain, is not a generalized effect of temperature. Importantly, these effects were also observed in sexually undifferentiated fish, and were not altered by estrogen treatment. Thus, methylation of the cyp19a promoter is responsible for the lower expression of cyp19a in temperature-masculinized fish. In vitro, induced methylation of the cyp19a promoter suppressed the ability of SF-1 and Foxl2 to stimulate transcription. Finally, a CpG differentially methylated by temperature and adjacent to a Sox transcription factor binding site is conserved across species. Thus, DNA methylation of the aromatase promoter may be an essential component of the long-sought after mechanism connecting environmental temperature and sex ratios in species with temperature-dependent sex determination
DescriptionComparative Morphology and Development (CDM) Symposia, Student Satellite Symposium, New perspectives on adaptation to environmental variation via epigenetic mechanisms, 16-20 may 2011, Ottawa
Publisher version (URL)http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/CMD/CMD2011/CMDSymp2011.htm
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Comunicaciones congresos
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