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Nat Protoc. 2012 May 17;7(6):1125-37. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2012.043.

Mussel micronucleus cytome assay.

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Environmental Carcinogenesis Unit, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS) Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino-IST, Istituto Nazionale Ricerca sul Cancro, Genova, Italy.


The micronucleus (MN) assay is one of the most widely used genotoxicity biomarkers in aquatic organisms, providing an efficient measure of chromosomal DNA damage occurring as a result of either chromosome breakage or chromosome mis-segregation during mitosis. The MN assay is today applied in laboratory and field studies using hemocytes and gill cells from bivalves, mainly from the genera Mytilus. These represent 'sentinel' organisms because of their ability to survive under polluted conditions and to accumulate both organic and inorganic pollutants. Because the mussel MN assay also includes scoring of different cell types, including necrotic and apoptotic cells and other nuclear anomalies, it is in effect an MN cytome assay. The mussel MN cytome (MUMNcyt) assay protocol we describe here reports the recommended experimental design, sample size, cell preparation, cell fixation and staining methods. The protocol also includes criteria and photomicrographs for identifying different cell types and scoring criteria for micronuclei (MNi) and nuclear buds. The complete procedure requires approximately 10 h for each experimental point/sampling station (ten animals).

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