Oxygen deprivation is a lethal stress that only a few animals can tolerate for extended periods. This study focuses on analyzing the role of DNA methylation in aiding natural anoxia tolerance in a champion vertebrate anaerobe, the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). We examined the relative expression and total enzymatic activity of four DNA methyltransferases (DNMT1, DNMT2, DNMT3a and DNMT3b), two methyl-binding domain proteins (MBD1 and MBD2), and relative genomic levels of 5-methylcytosine under control, 5 h anoxic, and 20 h anoxic conditions in liver, heart, and white skeletal muscle (n = 4, p < 0.05). In liver, protein expression of DNMT1, DNMT2, MBD1, and MBD2 rose significantly by two- to fourfold after 5 h anoxic submergence compared to normoxic-control conditions. In heart, 5 h anoxia submergence resulted in a 1.4-fold increase in DNMT3a levels and a significant decrease in MBD1 and MBD2 levels to ~30 % of control values. In white muscle, DNMT3a and DNMT3b increased threefold and MBD1 levels increased by 50 % in response to 5 h anoxia. Total DNMT activity rose by 0.6–2.0-fold in liver and white muscle and likewise global 5mC levels significantly increased in liver and white muscle under 5 and 20 h anoxia. The results demonstrate an overall increase in DNA methylation, DNMT protein expression and enzymatic activity in response to 5 and 20 h anoxia in liver and white muscle indicating a potential downregulation of gene expression via this epigenetic mechanism during oxygen deprivation.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Anoxia, DNA methyltransferases, Epigenetics, Metabolic rate depression, Methyl-binding proteins, Trachemys scripta elegans
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00360-016-0960-x
Journal Journal of Comparative Physiology B
Wijenayake, S. (Sanoji), & Storey, K. (2016). The role of DNA methylation during anoxia tolerance in a freshwater turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 186(3), 333–342. doi:10.1007/s00360-016-0960-x