Redox regulation in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) embryos developing under normal and heat-stressed conditions

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With regard to predicted oceanic warming, we studied the effects of heat stress on the redox system during embryonic development of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), with emphasis on the glutathione balance, activities of key antioxidant enzymes, and their mRNA levels. The embryos were incubated at optimal temperature for development (6 °C) or slightly above the threshold temperature (10 °C). The regulation of all the redox-related parameters measured at optimum development was highly dynamic and complex, indicating the importance of both maternal and zygotic contributions to maintaining redox equilibrium. Development at 10 °C caused a significantly higher mortality at the blastula and early gastrula stages, indicating severe stress. Measures of the glutathione redox couple showed a significantly more reduced state in embryos at 10 °C compared to 6 °C at the post-gastrula stages. Mean normalized expression of nrf2, trxred, g6pd, gclc, nox1, CuZnsod, and mt in embryos kept at 10 °C revealed stage-specific significantly reduced mRNA levels. Activities of antioxidant enzymes changed both during ontogenesis and in response to temperature, but did not correlate with mRNA levels. As the embryos need a tightly regulated redox environment to coordinate between growth and differentiation, these findings suggest that the altered redox balance might participate in inducing phenotypic changes caused by elevated temperature.

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