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Analysis of metallotionein expression and antioxidant enzyme activities in Meretrix meretrix larvae under sublethal cadmium exposure

Wang, Qing, Wang, Xiaomei, Wang, Xiaoyu, Yang, Hongsheng, Liu, Baozhong
Aquatic toxicology 2010 v.100 no.4 pp. 321-328
Meretrix meretrix, amino acid sequences, amino acids, cadmium, catalase, complementary DNA, enzyme activity, genes, glutathione peroxidase, larvae, messenger RNA, mussels, open reading frames, oysters, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, superoxide dismutase
To investigate the possible role of metallothioneins (MTs) and antioxidant enzymes in cadmium (Cd) tolerance in Meretrix meretrix larvae, a new MT (designated MmMT) gene was identified and cloned from M. meretrix. The full-length cDNA of MmMT consisted of an open reading frame (ORF) of 231bp encoding a protein of 76 amino acids, with 21 cysteine residues and a conserved structural pattern Cys-x-Cys-x(3)-Cys-Tyr-Gly-x(3)-Cys-x-Cys-x(3)-Cys-x-Cys-Lys at the C-terminus. The deduced amino acid sequence of MmMT showed about 57-84% identity with previously published MT sequences of mussels and oysters. Real-time PCR was used to analyze the expression level of MmMT mRNA at different M. meretrix larval stages under Cd exposure (25μgL⁻¹). Results showed that Cd could induce the expression of MmMT mRNA in the larvae, and the expression level increased 5.04-fold and 3.99-fold in D-shaped larvae and pediveligers, respectively. Immunolocalization of MmMT in the stressed larvae revealed that MmMT was synthesized in almost all of the soft parts at the trochophore and postlarva stages, whereas it was only synthesized in the velum and epidermis at the D-shaped larva and pediveliger stages. The activities of three antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), also were measured in larvae at different developmental stages. Increased enzymatic activities were detected mainly in D-shaped larvae and pediveligers under Cd stress, suggesting that these enzymes respond synchronously with MT. Our results indicate that MmMT and antioxidant enzymes played important roles in counteracting Cd stress in M. meretrix larvae.