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Title: Cadmium Ecotoxic Effects on Embryonic Dmrt1 and Aromatase Expression in Chrysemys picta Turtles May Implicate Changes in DNA Methylation
Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) decides the sex fate of an individual based on incubation temperature. However, other environmental factors, such as pollutants, could derail TSD sexual development. Cadmium is one such contaminant of soils and water bodies known to affect DNA methylation, an epigenetic DNA modification with a key role in sexual development of TSD vertebrate embryos. Yet, whether cadmium alters DNA methylation of genes underlying gonadal formation in turtles remains unknown. Here, we investigated the effects of cadmium on the expression of two gene regulators of TSD in the painted turtle, Chrysemys picta, incubated at male-producing and female-producing temperatures using qPCR. Results revealed that cadmium alters transcription of Dmrt1 and aromatase, overriding the normal thermal effects during embryogenesis, which could potentially disrupt the sexual development of TSD turtles. Results from a preliminary DNA methylation-sensitive PCR assay implicate changes in DNA methylation of Dmrt1 as a potential cause that requires further testing (aromatase methylation assays were precluded).
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2127995 1555999
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National Science Foundation
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  5. Abstract Background

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