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Characterization of AHR2 and CYP1A expression in Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon treated with coplanar PCBs and TCDD


Characterization of AHR2 and CYP1A expression in Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon treated with coplanar PCBs and TCDD



Aquatic Toxicology 197: 19-31



ISSN/ISBN: 0166-445X

PMID: 29427830

DOI: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2018.01.017

Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon co-occur in many estuaries along the Atlantic Coast of North America. Both species are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and internationally on the IUCN Red list and by CITES. Early life-stages of both sturgeons may be exposed to persistent aromatic hydrocarbon contaminants such as PCBs and PCDD/Fs which are at high levels in the sediments of impacted spawning rivers. Our objective was to compare the PCBs and TCDD sensitivities of both species with those of other fishes and to determine if environmental concentrations of these contaminants approach those that induce toxicity to their young life-stages under controlled laboratory conditions. Because our previous studies suggested that young life-stages of North American sturgeons are among the more sensitive of fishes to coplanar PCB and TCDD-induced toxicities, we were interested in identifying the molecular bases of this vulnerability. It is known that activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor 2 (AHR2) in fishes mediates most toxicities to these contaminants and transcriptional activation of xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes such as cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A). Previous studies demonstrated that structural and functional variations in AHRs are the bases for differing sensitivities of several vertebrate taxa to aromatic hydrocarbons. Therefore, in this study we characterized AHR2 and its expression in both sturgeons as an initial step in understanding the mechanistic bases of their sensitivities to these contaminants. We also used CYP1A expression as an endpoint to develop Toxicity Equivalency Factors (TEFs) for these sturgeons. We found that critical amino acid residues in the ligand binding domain of AHR2 in both sturgeons were identical to those of the aromatic hydrocarbon-sensitive white sturgeon, and differed from the less sensitive lake sturgeon. AHR2 expression was induced by TCDD (up to 6-fold) and by three of four tested coplanar PCB congeners (3-5-fold) in Atlantic sturgeon, but less so in shortnose sturgeon. We found that expression of AHR2 and CYP1A mRNA significantly covaried after exposure to TCDD and PCB77, PCB81, PCB126, but not PCB169 in both sturgeons. We also determined TEFs for the four coplanar PCBs in shortnose sturgeon based on comparison of CYP1A mRNA expression across all doses. Surprisingly, the TEFs for all four coplanar PCBs in shortnose sturgeon were much higher (6.4-162 times) than previously adopted for fishes by the WHO.

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