Apoptosis and autophagy-related gene transcription during ovarian follicular atresia in European hake (Merluccius merluccius).
Valencia López, Ainara
Atxaerandio Landa, Aitor
Hossain, Mohammad Amzad
Ortiz Zarragoitia, Maren
Marine Environmental Research 183 : (2023) // Article ID 105846
Follicular atresia is an energy-saving oocyte resorption process that can allow the survival of female fish when environmental conditions are unfavourable and at the expense of fecundity. This study investigated the transcription levels of apoptosis and autophagy-related genes during atresia in the European hake that can show episodes of increased follicular atresia throughout the reproductive cycle. 169 female individuals were collected from the Bay of Biscay, and the ovaries were analysed using histological and molecular methods. Different levels of atresia were histologically detected in 73.7% of the ovaries analysed and the TUNEL assay identified apoptotic nuclei in follicles from both previtellogenic and vitellogenic stages. Transcripts of beclin-1 and ptenb were up-regulated in the ovaries containing atretic follicles, whereas p53, caspase-3, cathepsin D and dapk1 were up-regulated only in ovaries presenting vitellogenic atretic follicles. Our results indicate different implications of apoptotic vs autophagic processes leading to atresia during oocyte development, vitellogenesis being the moment of maximal apoptotic and autophagic activity in atretic hakes. The analysed genes could provide early warning biomarkers to identify follicular atresia in fish and evaluate fecundity in fish stocks.