John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Transcriptional responses in Enchytraeus albidus (Oligochaeta): Comparison between cadmium and zinc exposure and linkage to reproduction effects

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Metal ecotoxicity to soil organisms, for example, in enchytraeids (also known as potworms), has been addressed mainly by assessing effects on survival and reproduction, but very little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms of responses. The main purpose of the present study was to assess and compare the transcriptional responses of Enchytraeus albidus to an essential (Zn) and a nonessential (Cd) metal. Exposure was performed with two concentrations with a known effect on reproduction (effective concentration for 50% [EC50] and 90% [EC90]) at three time points (2, 4, and 8 d). Results showed that transcriptional responses were influenced by exposure duration but, independently of that, the mechanisms of response to Cd and Zn were consistently different. Both metals affected pathways related to the regulation of gene expression, calcium homeostasis, and cellular respiration. Mechanisms of toxicity that were exclusively associated with Cd exposures were the inhibition of DNA repair and the impairment of ubiquitin‐mediated proteolysis. The microarray for E. albidus was a useful tool with which to detect molecular pathways affected by metal exposures. Transcriptional responses strongly correlated with known mechanisms of Cd and Zn responses in other organisms, suggesting cross‐species conserved mechanisms of action. It should be highlighted not only that the authors could retrieve mechanistic information but also that genes responded within 2 to 8 d of exposure. This represents an additional advantage of using such molecular endpoints as a complement to the traditional, more time‐consuming endpoints. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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