Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1587–1602 | Cite as

Low salinity affects cellularity, DNA methylation, and mRNA expression of igf1 in the liver of half smooth tongue sole (Cynoglossus semilaevis)

  • Siping Li
  • Feng He
  • Haishen Wen
  • Jifang Li
  • Yufeng Si
  • Mingyuan Liu
  • Yajuan Huang
  • Lingcai Meng


Animal growth depends on feedback regulation of hormone levels and environmental conditions. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (Igf1) promotes cell growth and differentiation and represses apoptosis and is highly regulated by the environment. Moreover, animals modify physiological homeostasis under stressful conditions through epigenetics and genetic regulatory mechanisms. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the effects of salt on fish growth is needed. In this study, half smooth tongue sole (Cynoglossus semilaevis) were subjected to 15‰ salinity for 0, 7, and 60 days (D) to assess the effects of low salinity on liver cellularity and growth. The results show that low salinity changed liver morphology, suggesting an increase in energy expenditure to recover from the osmotic disruption. igf1 was upregulated in female fish under 15‰ salinity after 7D and may participate in molecular repair. igf1 was downregulated after 60D of salt stress, resulting in retarded growth. Methylation levels were opposite to those of gene expression, suggesting inhibited regulation. Furthermore, three exons in the igf1 gene had significantly different methylation levels in fish under salt stress. Notably, more putative transcription factor binding sites were located in CpG sites at higher methylation levels. igf1 is not a sex-related gene, as no difference in methylation level was detected between males and females in the control group. These results clarify liver damage and changes in DNA methylation and mRNA expression of igf1, providing insight into the adverse effects of low salt on growth of C. semilaevis and the epigenetics and regulatory mechanisms involved in stressful conditions.


Salinity stress igf1 Morphology DNA methylation mRNA transcription 



We thank Shangdong Dongying farm for providing the animals. This research was supported by State 863 High-Technology R&D Project of China (2012AA10A403), Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province, China (ZR2014CM018), and the National Nature Science Foundation of China (31672642). It is appreciated that the comments from editors and reviewers have greatly improved our manuscript.

Authors’ contributions

SL carried out the histology observation, DNA bisulfite modification and sequencing, and RNA expression procedures, and drafted and wrote the manuscript; FH, HW, and JL designed and guided the experiment, and participated in the manuscript modification and coordination; YS performed the fish feeding and sampling; ML and LM are involved in DNA and RNA extraction; and YH took part in methylation data interpretation. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siping Li
    • 1
  • Feng He
    • 1
  • Haishen Wen
    • 1
  • Jifang Li
    • 1
  • Yufeng Si
    • 1
  • Mingyuan Liu
    • 1
  • Yajuan Huang
    • 1
  • Lingcai Meng
    • 1
  1. 1.The Key Laboratory of Mariculture (Ocean University of China)Ministry of EducationQingdaoChina

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