Characterization of ontogenetic changes in gene expression in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)



Recently, researchers have begun looking at changes in gene expression in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) after contaminant exposure as a way to develop biomarkers of exposure and effects. However, the bulk of this research has been conducted on adults, with few studies focusing on early life stages. Expression of selected genes important in growth, development, and reproduction in teleosts was quantified by quantitative polymerase chain reaction during different developmental time periods (from 0 to 28 d postfertilization [dpf]). Over the developmental period studied, there was a significant up-regulation of growth hormone mRNA and no significant changes in the expression of insulin-like growth factor 1. Thyroid hormone receptors A and B were detected in 4 dpf embryos and their expression stayed relatively constant. The variation in cytochrome P45019A mRNA expression was large during the first week of development, returning to 0 dpf expression levels thereafter. Estrogen receptor 2B was up-regulated during the first three weeks postfertilization, returning to prehatch values by 28 dpf. Expression of hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 3B and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein increased after the third or fourth week postfertilization, respectively. Vitellogenin exhibited a large degree of variation within time points, especially after day 15, and a significant up-regulation for this gene was observed at 7 and 10 dpf. Knowledge of the normal changes in gene expression during embryo and larval development will allow for better experimental design and selection of suitable biomarkers when testing the potential toxicological effects of contaminants in this model fish species.