Impacts of TCDD and MeHg on DNA methylation in zebrafish (Danio rerio) across two generations

Pål A. Olsvik, Timothy Williams, Hui-shan Tung, Leda Mirbahai, Monica Sanden, Kaja H. Skjaerven, Ståle Ellingsen

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This study aimed to investigate whether dioxin (TCDD) and methylmercury (MeHg) pose a threat to offspring of fish exposed to elevated concentrations of these chemicals via epigenetic-based mechanisms. Adult female zebrafish were fed diets added either 20 μg/kg 2,3,7,8 TCDD or 10 mg/kg MeHg for 47 days, or 10 mg/kg 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-AZA), a hypomethylating agent, for 32 days, and bred with unexposed males in clean water to produce F1 and F2 offspring. Global DNA methylation, promoter CpG island methylation and target gene transcription in liver of adult females and in 3 days post fertilization (dpf) F1 and F2 embryos were determined with HPLC, a novel CpG island tiling array containing 54,933 different probes and RT-qPCR, respectively. The results showed that chemical treatment had no significant effect on global DNA methylation levels in F1 (MeHg and TCDD) and F2 (MeHg) embryos and only a limited number of genes were identified with altered methylation levels at their promoter regions. CYP1A1 transcription, an established marker of TCDD exposure, was elevated 27-fold in F1 embryos compared to the controls, matching the high levels of CYP1A1 expression observed in F0 TCDD-treated females. This suggests that maternal transfer of TCDD is a significant route of exposure for the F1 offspring. In conclusion, the selected doses of TCDD and MeHg, two chemicals often found in high concentrations in fish, appear to have only modest effects on DNA methylation in F1 (MeHg and TCDD) and F2 (MeHg) embryos of treated F0 females.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology
Early online date27 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


  • Fish
  • Contaminants
  • Epigenetics


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