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Chemosphere. 2005 Apr;59(2):155-62. Epub 2004 Dec 9.

Transcript and protein environmental biomarkers in fish--a review.

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  • 1Marine Biology and Biotechnology, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Tel Shikmona, P.O.B. 8030, Haifa 31080, Israel.


The levels of contaminant-affected gene products (transcripts and proteins) are increasingly utilized as environmental biomarkers, and their appropriate implementation as diagnostic tools is discussed. The required characteristics of a gene product biomarker are accurate evaluation using properly normalized absolute units, aiming at long-term comparability of biomarker levels over a wide geographical range and among many laboratories. Quantitative RT-PCR and competitive ELISA are suggested as preferred evaluation methods for transcript and protein, respectively. Constitutively expressed RNAs or proteins which are part of the examined homogenate are suggested as normalizing agents, compensating for variable processing efficiency. Essential characterization of expression patterns is suggested, providing reference values to be compared to the monitored levels. This comparison would enable estimation of the intensity of biological effects of contaminants. Contaminant-independent reference expression patterns should include natural fluctuations of the biomarker level. Contaminant-dependent patterns should include dose response to model contaminants chronically administered in two environmentally-realistic routes, reaching extreme sub-lethal affected levels. Recent studies using fish as environmental sentinel species, applying gene products as environmental biomarkers, and implementing at least part of the depicted methodologies are reviewed.

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