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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2012 May 1;176(3):507-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2011.10.009. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Characterizing the metabolism and movement of yolk estradiol during embryonic development in the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta).

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School of Biological Sciences, Campus Box 4120, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4120, USA.


Eggs of oviparous amniotes can contain substantial quantities of several steroids at the time of oviposition. These maternally derived steroids appear to affect the phenotype of developing offspring, but not all steroid sensitive traits are affected by maternal steroids, and little is known about how these effects may arise. In this study, we applied tritiated estradiol to the eggs of red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta) at the time of oviposition and characterized the subsequent metabolism and movement throughout embryonic development. Results indicate that very early in development, estradiol is converted to a variety of water-soluble estrogen sulfates that reside in the yolk and extraembryonic fluids until late in development. Within the final stages of development, we observe a significant decline in the total amount of metabolites present in the yolk and extraembryonic fluids and a significant increase in the amount of metabolites present in the embryo. While estradiol metabolism occurs during the early stages of development, the later stages appear to be the most dynamic with regards to the movement of estradiol metabolites. Our findings have important implications for studies investigating the effect of maternally derived steroids on offspring development.

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