Telomerase and its Reverse Transcriptase Subunit TERT: Identification and Oestrogenic Modulation of Telomerase Transcription in Two Aquatic Test Species; European Purple Sea Urchin (Paracentrotus Lividus) and Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus Mykiss)
Brannan, Katla Jorundsdottir
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
A plethora of naturally-produced steroid hormones, or artificial homologues of them, are being introduced into the aquatic and terrestrial environments each year. Two examples of these are the natural oestrogen 17-oestradiol (E2) and the oestrogen receptor antagonist, Bisphenol A (BPA), both of which target the ribonucleoprotein telomerase through upregulation of its telomerase reverse transcriptase component, TERT. The main objectives of this study were firstly to isolate and characterize the actual mRNA sequence for the telomerase catalytic subuninit, Tert, in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (Walbaum, 1792) and European purple sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) (Lamarck, 1816), with the aim of developing qPCR assays for the amplification and quantification of Tert. Further objectives were to use these assays in controlled exposure studies to establish whether and to what extent the aforementioned chemicals regulate Tert transcription and by doing so further understand the mechanism of Telomerase gene expression and the extent to which environmental oestrogen can interfere. The initial step of sequence characterization and assay devlopment was successful in the case of rainbow trout where two possible splice variants of Tert mRNA are identified, omTertShort and omTertLong. Two qPCR assays were developed for the relative quantification of both of these splice variants in rainbow trout samples, the latter of these successfully amplifying its target in test samples. In order to demonstrate in vitro and in vivo modulation of telomerase activity and mRNA expression, early life-stages of rainbow trout and purple sea urchin, as well as rainbow trout hepatocytes, were exposed to a range of concentrations of E2 and BPA. Purple sea urchin embryos were exposed to 200, 20 and 2 ng E2/ml for 28 hours until they had reached the stage of pluteus larvaes. Rainbow trout embryos were exposed to 500, 20 and 0.1 ng E2/ml and 600 and 150 ng BPA/ml for 167 days from immediately after fertilization. Rainbow trout hepatocytes were exposed to 20 and 2 ng E2/ml for 48 hours. The results from this study show that telomerase activity as well as TERT mRNA expression can be significantly modulated by exposure to oestrogens and other oestrogenic chemicals. E2 concentrations as low as 20 ng/ml lead to an increase in telomerase activity early-life stages of purple sea urchin and upregulation in the transcription of Tert mRNA in unhatched rainbow trout embryos. BPA induced similar response (600 ng/ml) in hatched rainbow trout alevins larvae. Very high exposures to E2 (500 ng/ml) do however lead to downregulation of Tert mRNA in hatched alevins larvae. Differential regulatory response can be observed between different tissue types of 167 day old fry, with an upregulatory response observed at 0.1 ng E2/ml in liver and muscle tissues, but not in brain. Similarly, brain tissues were observed expressing significantly less mRNA than liver and muscle samples when exposed to BPA (150 ng/ml). It is evident that the previously observed link between environmental oestrogens and telomerase is also present in the two test species examined; purple sea urchin and rainbow trout.
PhD in Biological Sciences