The effects of thyroid hormone disrupting chemicals (THDCs) on eye development of zebrafish were investigated. We expected THDC exposure to cause transcriptional changes of vision-related genes, which find their phenotypic anchoring in eye malformations and dysfunction, as observed in our previous studies. Zebrafish were exposed from 0 to 5 days post fertilization (dpf) to either propylthiouracil (PTU), a thyroid hormone synthesis inhibitor, or tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA), which interacts with thyroid hormone receptors. Full genome microarray analyses of RNA isolated from eye tissue revealed that the number of affected transcripts was substantially higher in PTU- than in TBBPA-treated larvae. However, multiple components of phototransduction (e.g., phosphodiesterase, opsins) were responsive to both THDC exposures. Yet, the response pattern for the gene ontology (GO)-class “sensory perception” differed between treatments, with over 90% down-regulation in PTU-exposed fish, compared to over 80% up-regulation in TBBPA-exposed fish. Additionally, the reversibility of effects after recovery in clean water for three days was investigated. Transcriptional patterns in the eyes were still altered and partly overlapped between 5 and 8 dpf, showing that no full recovery occurred within the time period investigated. However, pathways involved in repair mechanisms were significantly upregulated, which indicates activation of regeneration processes.
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