DNA methylation and gene expression alterations in zebrafish early-life stages exposed to the antibacterial agent triclosan

Elodie Falisse, Bertrand Ducos, Peter A. Stockwell, Ian M. Morison, Aniruddha Chatterjee, Frédéric Silvestre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is increasing evidence that toxicant exposure can alter DNA methylation profile, one of the main epigenetic mechanisms, particularly during embryogenesis when DNA methylation patterns are being established. In order to investigate the effects of the antibacterial agent Triclosan on DNA methylation and its correlation with gene expression, zebrafish embryos were exposed during 7 days post-fertilization (starting at maximum 8-cells stage) to 50 and 100 μg/l, two conditions for which increased sensitivity and acclimation have been respectively reported. Although global DNA methylation was not significantly affected, a total of 171 differentially methylated fragments were identified by Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing. The majority of these fragments were found between the two exposed groups, reflecting dose-dependant specific responses. Gene ontology analysis revealed that pathways involved in TGF-β signaling were enriched in larvae exposed to 50 μg/l, while de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis functions were overrepresented in fish exposed to 100 μg/l. In addition, gene expression analysis revealed a positive correlation between mRNA levels and DNA methylation patterns in introns, together with significant alterations of the transcription of genes involved in nervous system development, transcriptional factors and histone methyltransferases. Overall this work provides evidence that Triclosan alters DNA methylation in zebrafish exposed during embryogenesis as well as related genes expression and proposes concentration specific modes of action. Further studies will investigate the possible long-term consequences of these alterations, i.e. latent defects associated with developmental exposure and transgenerational effects, and the possible implications in terms of fitness and adaptation to environmental pollutants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1867-1877
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Danio rerio
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • RRBS
  • Triclosan


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