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Influencia diferencial de la expresión de Slc7a11 y la condición corporal sobre la pigmentación producida por feomelanina en dos poblaciones de trepador azul Sitta europea con diferente riesgo de depredación

The expression of the gene Slc7a11 promotes the antioxidant capacity of cells by providing them with cysteine that can be used for the synthesis of glutathione (GSH), the most important intracellular antioxidant. In melanocytes, intracellular cysteine can also enter melanosomes and get incorporated in the pigment pheomelanin synthesis pathway, thus decreasing cysteine availability for GSH synthesis and potentially creating chronic oxidative stress. Therefore, this study hypothesized that a mechanism limiting the use of intramelanocytic cysteine for pheomelanin synthesis in environmental conditions generating oxidative stress may be physiologically advantageous and favored by natural selection. Evidence we searched of such a mechanism by comparing the influence of melanocytic Slc7a11 expression on pheomelanin?based pigmentation in developing Eurasian nuthatch Sitta europaea nestlings from two populations differing in predation risk, a natural source of oxidative stress. Pheomelanin synthesis and pigmentation tended to increase with Slc7a11 expression in the low?risk population as expected from the activity of this gene, but decreased with Slc7a11 expression in the high?risk population. The same was not observed in the expression of five other genes influencing pheomelanin synthesis without affecting cysteine availability in melanocytes. The influence of body condition on the intensity of pheomelanin?based pigmentation also differed between populations, being positive in the low?risk population and negative in the high?risk population. The resulting pigmentation of birds was more intense in the high?risk population. These findings suggest that birds perceiving high predation risk may limit the use of cysteine for pheomelanin synthesis, which becomes independent of Slc7a11 expression. Some birds may have thus evolved the ability to adjust their pigmentation phenotype to environmental stress. informacion[at] Galván & Sanz (2020) Differential influence of Slc7a11 expression and body condition on pheomelanin-based pigmentation in two Eurasian nuthatch Sitta europaea populations with different predation risk. J Avian Biol DOI 10.1111/jav.02275
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A source of exogenous oxidative stress improves oxidative status and favors pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches

A source of exogenous oxidative stress improves oxidative status and favors pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches

Some organisms can modulate gene expression to trigger physiological responses that help adapt to environmental stress. The synthesis of the pigment pheomelanin in melanocytes seems to be one of these responses, as it may contribute to cellular homeostasis. Environmental oxidative stress was experimentally induced in male zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata by the administration of the herbicide diquat dibromide during feather growth to test if the expression of genes involved in pheomelanin synthesis shows epigenetic lability. As pheomelanin synthesis implies decreasing the availability of the main cellular antioxidant (glutathione), it is expected to cause oxidative stress unless a protective mechanism limits pheomelanin synthesis and thus favors the antioxidant capacity. However, diquat exposure did not only improve the antioxidant capacity of birds, but also upregulated the expression of a gene (AGRP) that promotes pheomelanin synthesis in feather melanocytes, leading to the development of darker plumage coloration. No changes in the expression of other genes involved in pheomelanin synthesis (Slc7a11, Slc45a2, MC1R, ASIP and CTNS) were detected. DNA methylation levels only changed in MC1R, suggesting that epigenetic modifications other than changes in methylation may regulate AGRP expression lability. These results suggest that exogenous oxidative stress induced a hormetic response that enhanced their oxidative status and, consequently, promoted pheomelanin-based pigmentation, supporting the idea that birds adjust pheomelanin synthesis to their oxidative stress conditions. información[at] Rodríguez-Martínez & Galván (2019) A source of exogenous oxidative stress improves oxidative status and favors pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches. Comp Biochem Phys C