Daily exposure to low doses of 3-methylcholanthrene (3MC) during the pubertal period in rats disrupts both follicular growth and ovulation. Thus, to provide new insights into the toxicity mechanism of 3MC in the ovary, here we investigated the effect of daily exposure to 3MC on selected ovarian genes, the role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and the level of epigenetic remodeling of histone post-transcriptional modifications. Immature rats were daily injected with 3MC (0.1 or 1 mg/kg) and mRNA expression of genes involved in different ovarian processes were evaluated. Of the 29 genes studied, 18 were up-regulated, five were down-regulated and six were not altered. To assess whether AhR was involved in these changes, we used the chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. 3MC increased AhR binding to promoter regions of genes involved in Notch signaling (Hes1, Jag1), activation of primordial follicles (Cdk2), cell adhesion (Icam1), stress and tumor progression (Dnajb6), apoptosis (Bax, Caspase-9) and expression of growth and transcription factors (Igf2, Sp1). Studying the trimethylation and acetylation of histone 3 (H3K4me3 and H3K9Ac, respectively) of these genes, we found that 3MC increased H3K4me3 in Cyp1a1, Jag1, Dnajb6, Igf2, Notch2, Adamts1, Bax and Caspase-9, and H3K9Ac in Cyp1a1, Jag1, Cdk2, Dnajb6, Igf2, Icam1, and Sp1. Co-treatment with α-naphthoflavone (αNF), a specific antagonist of AhR, prevented almost every 3MC-induced changes. Despite the low dose used in these experiments, daily exposure to 3MC induced changes in both gene expression and epigenomic remodeling, which may lead to premature ovarian failure.
- Aryl hydrocarbon
- Gene expression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis