DNA Methylation Level of Gene SIRT1 in Ram Spermatozoa and Relationship with Fertilizing Ability According to Breed and Age





Background: Effect of the epigenetic factors on the male fertility is well proofed. Sperm acts as a carrier of genetic material, and its DNA methylome can affect maternal pregnancy rate and offspring phenotype. However, the research on the DNA methylation in the spermatozoids of livestock males, in particular rams, is still limited. To best of our knowledge the data about as a global as well as gene specific DNA methylation in ram spermatozoa from different breeds and ages are missed in the scientific literature. The present study was designed to analyze the relationship between methylation levels of the important for spermatogenesis gene SIRT1 in spermatozoa and fertilizing ability of sperm in rams from different breeds and ages.

Materials, Methods & Results: The ejaculates of 16 rams from Lacaune, East Friesian and Assaf breeds at age between 18 to 96 months were evaluated. The kinematic parameters of 2 semen samples from each animal were estimated by CASA. The separated spermatozoa were used for DNA extraction followed by bisulfite conversion. The DNA methylation of SIRT1 was detected through quantitative methylation-specific PCR using 2 sets of primers designed specifically for bisulfite-converted DNA sequences to attach methylated and unmethylated sites. The breed and age effect on the gene SIRT1 methylation by ANOVA was estimated. Experimental females included 393 clinically healthy milk ewes (Lacaune, n = 131; East Friesian sheep, n = 100 and Assaf, n = 162) in breeding season. Reproductive performances (conception rate at lambing, lambing percentage and fecundity) of ewes, inseminated by sperm of the investigated rams, were statistically processed. ANOVA showed that the animal breed influences significantly on the level of DNA methylation of gene SIRT1 in ram spermatozoa (P = 0.002) An average value of DNA methylation of SIRT1 in ram sperm from Lacaune breed was significantly higher than in Assaf and East Friesian (81.21 ± 15.1% vs 36.7 ± 14.2% and 38.3 ± 18.6 respectively, P < 0.01). The highest percent of SIRT1 methylation was observed in old animals compared to the young and middle-age. Moderate and strong correlations (r from 0.44 to 0.71, P < 0.05) between the methylation level of the SIRT1 gene in rams' sperm and reproductive parameters of inseminated ewes in all breeds were established.

Discussion: Our data are the first message about the effect of breed on the specificity of DNA methylation of gene SIRT1 in ram spermatozoa. These results demonstrated an existence of the sheep breeds with high and low level of DNA methylation of gene SIRT1 in ram sperm. Although the effect of age on the methylation level in sperm is still discussable, our results showed a moderate correlation between age and methylation level of SIRT1 in spermatozoa of rams. Taking into account that DNA methylation in sperm is stabilized with puberty onset and is a heritable epigenetic modification, it can be a promising marker of sperm quality in animal breeding. In all investigated breeds the rams with relatively high level of DNA methylation of gene SIRT1 in spermatozoa (50-68%) demonstrated a high conception rate at lambing (> 70%). In conclusion, the DNA methylation level of the SIRT1 gene in ram spermatozoa is determined by both the breed and the age of the animals and correlates with fertilizing ability of sperm.

Keywords: SIRT1 methylation, ram spermatozoa, Lacuane, East Friesian, Assaf breeds.


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Yotov, S., Abadjieva, D., Bonev, G., Yarkov, D., Karadaev, M., Ivanova, B., Sinapov, B., & Kistanova, E. (2022). DNA Methylation Level of Gene SIRT1 in Ram Spermatozoa and Relationship with Fertilizing Ability According to Breed and Age . Acta Scientiae Veterinariae, 50. https://doi.org/10.22456/1679-9216.125068