Identification and expression of the ecdysone receptor in the harpacticoid copepod, Amphiascus tenuiremis, in response to fipronil.


The marine copepod, Amphiascus tenuiremis (A. tenuiremis), is a well characterized invertebrate model for the screening and evaluation of endocrine and reproductive toxins using life-cycle assays. These tests evaluate phenotypic endpoints related to development and reproduction, which are utilized to predict population outcomes. Some of these endpoints in arthropods, including sexual maturation and molting, are controlled by the hormone ecdysone which acts through its cognate receptor, the ecdysone receptor. The purpose of this research was to obtain and characterize sequence information for the A. tenuiremis ecdysone receptor and investigate modulation of expression levels by fipronil, an insecticide that causes infertility in males and reduced egg extrusion in female copepods, and ponasterone, a natural ecdysone receptor agonist. Results show successful cloning and phylogenetic analysis of the ecdysone receptor for A. tenuiremis, providing the first genetic information for a hormone receptor in this species. Exposure of copepodites to fipronil for 1, 2, 4, 18 and 30 h caused a significant increase in ecdysone receptor transcriptional expression at 30 h compared to control unexposed animals. This work illustrates a potential mechanism whereby exposure to fipronil, and potentially other endocrine disrupting compounds, results in impacted reproduction. Furthermore, this exemplifies the potential utility of ecdysone receptor transcriptional measurement as a sensitive and rapid biomarker of ecological relevance when linked to traditional A. tenuiremis bioassays.