The implications for aquaculture practice of epigenomic programming of components of the endocrine system of teleostean embryos: lessons learned from mammalian studies

Authors

  • Mao Li,

    1. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
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  • John F Leatherland

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
    • Correspondence:

      John F Leatherland, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada

      Tel.: 1 519 824 4120

      Fax: 1 519 767 1450

      E-mail: jleather@ovc.uoguelph.ca

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Abstract

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression patterns that occur without any modification of the underlying nucleotide sequence of the DNA. Modifications of the so-called epigenome include complex transient or permanent chemical changes of the DNA or histone proteins resulting in the suppression or enhancement of gene expression, together with an array of post-translational events that modify the translational products. Epigenomic programming (EP) of the genome is an essential component of embryonic development in animals from the totipotent fertilized egg to the pluripotent stem cells, stem cell differentiation and final tissue and organ formation. Many of these EP processes are influenced transiently and some permanently by environmental influences. In eutherian mammals, environmentally related EP of embryos is linked to permanent changes in the phenotype of the progeny, some of which have been associated with adult onset metabolic disorders. Moreover, because some of the epigenetic remodelling occurs in both the soma and germ line, the resultant phenotypic characteristics (some of which are linked to disease states) may be heritable. Although far less is known about the effects of environmentally linked EP on the ontogeny of fishes, the available information suggests that the EP processes are similar amongst all vertebrates, and there are clear parallels between fish and mammals that are discussed in this paper. Our perspective takes the well-established findings in mammals and uses them to proactively extrapolate to the as yet under-recognized implications of EP for fish biology and for fish production in intensive aquaculture.

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