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Mutat Res. 2000 Dec 20;472(1-2):155-61.

Micronucleus induction and chromosome loss in transformed human white cells indicate clastogenic and aneugenic action of the cyanobacterial toxin, cylindrospermopsin.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, University of Adelaide Medical School, SA 5005, Adelaide, Australia.


Cylindrospermopsin (CYN) is a potent inhibitor of protein synthesis produced by a number of cyanobacterial species, the most common being Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii. CYN contains a uracil moiety attached to a sulphated guanidino moiety, suggesting that it may have carcinogenic activity. This report describes the use of the WIL2-NS lymphoblastoid cell-line in the well-validated cytokinesis-block micronucleus (CBMN) assay to test this hypothesis. Centromeres (CENs) were identified in micronuclei (MNi) of binucleated cells (BNCs) by fluorescent in situ hybridisation of alpha centromeric DNA sequence repeats. The results indicate that CYN induced a significant increase in the frequency of MNi in BNCs exposed to 6 and 10microg/ml, and a significant increase in CEN-positive MNi at all concentrations of CYN tested (1, 3, 6, and 10microg/ml). However, despite this apparently greater sensitivity of WIL2-NS cells to induction of CEN-positive MNi at low CYN concentrations, at the higher concentrations the magnitude of the increase in CEN-positive MNi did not account for the greater increase in MNi in BNCs, indicating that both CEN-positive and CEN-negative MNi were induced. This suggests that CYN acts to induce cytogenetic damage via two mechanisms, one at the level of the DNA to induce strand breaks, the other at the level of kinetochore/spindle function to induce loss of whole chromosomes (aneuploidy). C. raciborskii occurs in a number of human drinking water sources worldwide and so these findings may have important public health implications.

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