Fingerprinting fecal DNA and mRNA as a non-invasive strategy to assess the impact of polychlorinated biphenyl 126 exposure on zebrafish

Lianguo Chen , Mengyuan Liu , Yumiao Sun , Lizhu Tang , Chenyan Hu , Baili Sun , Zileng Huang


Received October 29, 2020,Revised , Accepted January 13, 2021, Available online January 23, 2021

Volume 33,2021,Pages 15-25

In toxicological studies, experimental animals are generally subjected to dissection to obtain the tissues of concern, which causes great harm to the animals. In this regard, it is necessary to test and develop a non-invasive strategy to prevent the animals from anthropic injury when achieving scientific objectives. Therefore, zebrafish fecal DNA and mRNA pools were assessed by using metagenomic and transcriptomic analyses based on their potential to diagnose toxicological impairment of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) 126, a model persistent organic pollutant. The results showed that there was abundant zebrafish DNA and mRNA in the feces, which were, however, associated with contrasting profiles of physiological activities. As compared to DNA fragments, fecal mRNA provided a better representation of zebrafish physiological status. PCB126 exposure dramatically shifted the composition of fecal zebrafish DNA and mRNA as a function of sex. The differential mRNA caused by PCB126 clearly identified the toxicological fingerprint of PCB126. In summary, this study provides preliminary clues about the potential of fecal genes (mRNA in particular) in the development of non-invasive toxicological approaches. In the future, it is expected that more works will be conducted to screen sensitive diagnostic biomarkers from feces to increase the rate and reduce the cost of ecological risk assessment.

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