Sex-specific dmrt1 and cyp19a1 methylation and alternative splicing in gonads of the protandrous hermaphrodite barramundi

Domingos, Jose A., Budd, Alyssa M., Banh, Quyen Q., Goldsbury, Julie A., Zenger, Kyall R., and Jerry, Dean R. (2018) Sex-specific dmrt1 and cyp19a1 methylation and alternative splicing in gonads of the protandrous hermaphrodite barramundi. PLoS ONE, 13 (9). e0204182.

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Epigenetics is involved in sex differentiation of gonochoristic and hermaphroditic fish species, whereby two genes dmrt1 (pro-male) and cyp19a1 (pro-female) are known to play major roles. Barramundi, Lates calcarifer, is an important tropical aquaculture species that undergo natural and permanent male to female sex change, a process for which the exact underlying molecular mechanisms are still unknown. To elucidate whether DNA methylation is involved in sex control of barramundi, a next-generation bisulfite amplicon sequencing approach was used to target 146 CpG sites within proximal promoters and first exons of seven sex-related genes (dmrt1, cyp19a1, amh, foxl2, nr5a2, sox8 and sox9) of 24 testis and 18 ovaries of captive and wild adult barramundi. Moreover, comparative expression profiles of the key dmrt1 and cyp19a1 genes were further investigated using RT-qPCR and Sanger sequencing approaches, whereas expression levels of remaining targeted genes were based on available literature for the species. Results showed that cyp19a1 and amh were more methylated in males, whereas dmrt1 and nr5a2 were more methylated in females (P < 0.001), with no gender differences found for foxl2, sox8 or sox9 genes (P > 0.05). Sex-biased promoter DNA methylation was inversely related to gene expression only for dmrt1 and nr5a2, and directly related to amh expression, whereas no differences in cyp19a1 expression were found between testes and ovaries. Notably, unique sex-specific alternative splicing of dmrt1 and cyp19a1 were discovered, whereby males lacked the full-length aromatase coding cyp19a1 mRNA due to partial or total exon splicing, and females lacked the dmrt1 exon containing the DM-domain sequence. This study advances the current knowledge aiming to elucidate the genetic mechanisms within male and female gonads of this large protandrous hermaphrodite by providing the first evidence of epigenetics and alternative splicing simultaneously affecting key genes (cyp19a1 and dmrt1) central to sex differentiation pathways.

Item ID: 55679
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Domingos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Support from the Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP130100007 in partnership with Mainstream Aquaculture Pty Ltd does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Mainstream Aquaculture Pty Ltd (DRJ)
Projects and Grants: ARC Linkage Grant LP130100007
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2018 22:10
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300501 Aquaculture @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310504 Epigenetics (incl. genome methylation and epigenomics) @ 25%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300504 Fish physiology and genetics @ 25%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8301 Fisheries - Aquaculture > 830102 Aquaculture Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 100%
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