Epigenetic changes associated with increased estrogen receptor alpha mRNA transcript abundance during reproductive maturation in chicken ovaries

Anim Reprod Sci. 2020 Mar;214:106287. doi: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2020.106287. Epub 2020 Jan 18.


Estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that regulates cellular responses to estrogens and transcription processes of target genes. In this study, changes in DNA methylation and histone modifications in the promoter region and Exon 1 of the ERα gene were analyzed to ascertain epigenetic changes associated with increased ERα mRNA abundance during reproductive maturation from 90 (egg production not yet initiated) to 160 (after egg production was initiated) d of age (d post-hatching) in chicken ovaries. The results indicate there was no difference in CpG methylation at the promoter and Exon 1 except at the region analyzed with primer pairs F2 and R2, where percentage of methylated CpG of Sites 2 and 8 after reproductive maturation was greater compared with before reproductive maturation. By using the chromatin immunuoprecipitation (ChIP) assay combined with SYBR green quantitative PCR, effects of histone modifications were evaluated, including histone H3K4 di + tri methylation, H3K9 phosphorylation and trimethylation, H3K36 methylation and H3K27 acetylation on chicken ERα mRNA transcript abundance. The results indicated that there was a greater histone H3K27 acetylation and lesser H3K36 trimethylation associated with increased abundance of ERα mRNA transcript in chicken ovaries after reproductive maturation (90 compared with 160 d of age). In consistent with this finding, the relative abundance of transcriptional coactivator p300 mRNA transcript and protein in the ovaries was markedly greater in reproductively mature than immature chickens. Findings provide insights into the epigenetic regulations of the chicken ERα gene expression that is required for chicken ovarian development.

Keywords: Chicken; ERα; Expression; Histone modification; Ovary.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens / metabolism*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / genetics
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Ovary / growth & development*
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • RNA, Messenger