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Ecotoxicology. 2011 Nov;20(8):2030-41. doi: 10.1007/s10646-011-0746-6. Epub 2011 Jul 30.

Induction of apoptosis in mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis gills by model cytotoxic agents.

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  • 1EA 4326 Facteurs nerveux et structuration tissulaire, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, 22 avenue Camille Desmoulins, 29609, Brest cedex, France.


Apoptosis signaling pathway was investigated in the marine mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis exposed to various stressors. Analyses were performed in mussels exposed to two major pollutants of the aquatic environment: tributyltin and the water soluble fraction of diesel oil, for 1 h and animals were then maintained in sea water for a recovery period of 6 and 24 h. Apoptosis was evaluated at several levels of the cell signaling cascade by measuring Bcl-xS expression, caspase-3 activity and DNA damage (Fast micromethod(®) and TUNEL techniques). H(2)O(2) was used as a control of apoptosis induction for validation of the assays. Results showed an induction of Bcl-xS expression, a protein implicated in apoptosis, after 1 h exposure to all concentrations of chemicals. Moreover, in the same manner, apoptotic DNA damage was induced with all chemicals tested. Besides, caspase 3 activity was detected after 1 h exposure to low doses of TBT and diesel oil while the high concentrations induced this protein after 6 h. The achieved data were also correlated with our previous study, demonstrating an induction of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activity in the mussel M. galloprovincialis exposed to the same conditions. In conclusion, this study was one of the first characterizing the MAP kinase cell signaling pathway leading to apoptosis in the mussel M. galloprovincialis exposed to chemicals. It showed for the first time that the Bcl-xS protein was present in these mussels as in other species and played a role in apoptosis mediation. Moreover, the main originality of this work was that it showed that two apoptotic pathways might be present in the mussel: a caspase 3-dependent and a caspase 3-independent pathways.

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