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Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Oct;110(10):1041-6.

Developmental toxicology of cadmium in living embryos of a stable transgenic zebrafish line.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Toxicology Group, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


The toxic effects of cadmium and other heavy metals have been well established, and many of these and other environmental pollutants are known to be embryotoxic or teratogenic. However, it has proven difficult to identify individual cells that respond to toxicants among the wide range of cell populations in an intact animal, particularly during early development when cells are continually changing their molecular and physiologic characteristics as they differentiate. Here we report the establishment of an in vivo system that uses hsp70 gene activation as a measure of cadmium toxicity in living early larvae of transgenic zebrafish carrying a stably integrated hsp70-enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) reporter gene. We demonstrate that eGFP expression in this strain of fish acts as an accurate and reproducible indicator of cell-specific induction of hsp70 gene expression. Furthermore, the transgene responds in a dose-dependent manner at concentrations similar to those observed for morphologic indicators of early-life-stage toxicity and is sensitive enough to detect cadmium at doses below the median combined adverse effect concentration and the median lethal concentration. The stable nature of this transgenic line should allow for extremely rapid and reproducible toxicologic profiling of embryos and larvae throughout development.

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