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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 26;105(34):12108-12. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0803147105. Epub 2008 Aug 21.

Localizing organomercury uptake and accumulation in zebrafish larvae at the tissue and cellular level.

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Department of Geological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, 114 Science Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5E2, Canada.


Using synchrotron x-ray fluorescence mapping, we have examined the uptake and localization of organic mercury in zebrafish larvae. Strikingly, the greatest accumulation of methyl and ethyl mercury compounds was highly localized in the rapidly dividing lens epithelium, with lower levels going to brain, optic nerve, and various other organs. The data suggest that the reported impairment of visual processes by mercury may arise not only from previously reported neurological effects, but also from direct effects on the ocular tissue. This novel approach is a powerful tool for directly investigating the molecular toxicology of heavy metals, and should be equally applicable to the study of a wide range of elements in developing embryos.

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