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The transcriptome of the zebrafish embryo after chemical exposure: A meta-analysis

: Schüttler, Andreas; Reiche, Kristin; Altenburger, Rolf; Busch, Wibke

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Toxicological Sciences 157 (2017), No.2, pp.291-304
ISSN: 1096-6080
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IZI ()
meta-analysis; microarray; stress response; toxicogenomics; transcriptome; zebrafish embryo

Numerous studies have been published in the past years investigating the transcriptome of the zebrafish embryo (ZFE) upon being subjected to chemical stress. Aiming at a more mechanistic understanding of the results of such studies, knowledge about commonalities of transcript regulation in response to chemical stress is needed. Thus, our goal in this study was to identify and interpret genes and gene sets constituting a general response to chemical exposure. Therefore, we aggregated and reanalyzed published toxicogenomics data obtained with the ZFE. We found that overlap of differentially transcribed genes in response to chemical stress across independent studies is generally low and the most commonly differentially transcribed genes appear in less than 50% of all treatments across studies. However, effect size analysis revealed several genes showing a common trend of differential expression, among which genes related to calcium homeostasis emerged as key, especially in exposure settings up to 24h post-fertilization. Additionally, we found that these and other downregulated genes are often linked to anatomical regions developing during the respective exposure period. Genes showing a trend of increased expression were, among others, linked to signaling pathways (e.g., Wnt, Fgf) as well as lysosomal structures and apoptosis. The findings of this study help to increase the understanding of chemical stress responses in the developing zebrafish embryo and provide a starting point to improve experimental designs for this model system. In future, improved time- and concentration-resolved experiments should offer better understanding of stress response patterns and access to mechanistic information.