Benzo[c]phenanthrene (BcP) is a highly toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) found throughout the environment. In fish, it is metabolized to 3-hydroxybenzo[c]phenanthrene (3-OHBcP). In the present study, we observed the effects of 1 nM 3-OHBcP on the development and gene expression of Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) embryos. Embryos were nanoinjected with the chemical after fertilization. Survival, developmental stage, and heart rate of the embryos were observed, and gene expression differences were quantified by messenger RNA sequencing (mRNA-Seq). The exposure to 1 nM 3-OHBcP accelerated the development of medaka embryos on the 1st, 4th, and 6th days post fertilization (dpf), and increased heart rates significantly on the 5th dpf. Physical development differences of exposed medaka embryos were consistent with the gene expression profiles of the mRNA-Seq results for the 3rd dpf, which show that the expression of 780 genes differed significantly between the solvent control and 1 nM 3-OHBcP exposure groups. The obvious expression changes in the exposure group were found for genes involved in organ formation (eye, muscle, heart), energy supply (ATPase and ATP synthase), and stress-response (heat shock protein genes). The acceleration of development and increased heart rate, which were consistent with the changes in mRNA expression, suggested that 3-OHBcP affects the development of medaka embryos. The observation on the developmental stages and heart beat, in ovo-nanoinjection and mRNA-Seq may be efficient tools to evaluate the effects of chemicals on embryos.
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