Sex steroid dynamics and mRNA transcript profiles of growth- and development-related genes during embryogenesis following induced follicular maturation in European eel

Johanna S. Kottmann, Helge Tveiten, Joanna J. Miest, Jonna Tomkiewicz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Hormones and mRNA transcripts of maternal origin deposited in the egg may affect early embryonic development in oviparous species. These hormones include steroids, such as estradiol-17β (E2), testosterone (T), 11-ketotestosterone (11-kt), 17α,20ß-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one (DHP), and cortisol, which also play an important role in fish reproduction. In European eel, Anguilla anguilla, which does not reproduce naturally in captivity, vitellogenesis in female broodstock is commonly induced by administration of salmon or carp pituitary extract (PE) as an exogenous source of gonadotropins, while follicular maturation is stimulated by a priming dose of PE followed by provision of DHP as a maturation inducing hormone. In this regard, the main purpose of the present study was to evaluate effects of induced follicular maturation on reproductive success in European eel, focusing on maternal transfer and dynamics of steroids and mRNA transcripts of growth- and development-related genes throughout embryogenesis. The results showed that maternal blood plasma concentrations of E2, T and DHP were reflected in the unfertilized eggs. Moreover, a negative relationship between concentrations of E2 and DHP in eggs and embryos and quality parameters measured as fertilization success, cleavage abnormalities, embryonic survival, and hatch success was found. Concomitant mRNA transcript abundance analysis including genes involved in stress response (hsp70, hsp90), somatotropic axis (gh, igf1, igf2a, igf2b), lipid (cpt1a, cpt1b, pigf5) and thyroid metabolism (dio1, dio2, dio3, thrαb, thrβa, thrβb) varied among unfertilized egg batches. For the majority of genes, mRNA abundance increased during the maternal-to-zygotic transition in connection to activation of the transcription of the embryos own genome. mRNA abundance of dio1, cpt1a and cpt1b throughout embryogenesis was related to embryonic developmental competence. Notably, mRNA abundance of dio3 was positively associated with E2 concentrations, while the mRNA abundance of thrαb was negatively related to T concentrations in the unfertilized eggs, which may suggest an interaction between the thyroid and steroid hormone systems. Altogether, maternal plasma concentrations of E2 and DHP were reflected in the eggs, with high concentrations of these steroids in the eggs being negatively associated with embryonic developmental competence. Additionally, high transcript levels of two of the investigated genes (dio1, cpt1b) were positively associated with embryonic developmental competence. This study reveals maternal transfer of steroids and mRNA transcripts to the eggs, which may be significant contributors to the variability in embryonic survival observed in European eel captive reproduction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113854
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Volume311
Number of pages14
ISSN0016-6480
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Assisted reproduction
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Gene expression
  • qPCR
  • Hormone receptor

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