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Exposure to copper induces oxidative and stress responses and DNA damage in the coral Montastraea franksi

Schwarz, J.A., Mitchelmore, C.L., Jones, R., O'Dea, A., Seymour, S.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part C 2013 v.157 pp. 272-279
Cnidaria, DNA damage, biomineralization, copper, coral reefs, corals, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, mammals, oxidative stress, stress response, sublethal effects, symbionts, transcription factors
Copper is a common chemical contaminant in coastal environments, including coral reefs. Ecotoxicological studies have demonstrated that exposure to copper can cause stress and detrimental effects in both host cnidarian and algal symbionts. The objective of this study was to investigate the sublethal effects of copper on the reef-building coral Montastraea franksi, by identifying genes with altered expression in corals exposed to dissolved copper, and by measuring the extent of damage to DNA in response to copper exposure. Corals exposed to 30μgL−1 copper for 48h experienced significant DNA damage and displayed changes in expression patterns of genes that are known to play role cellular and oxidative stress responses. Corals also experienced changes in gene expression of genes that are not already known to play roles in oxidative stress in corals. Our data suggest that these genes may either play roles directly in mediating a stress response, or may be genes acting downstream of the stress response. These include an ETS domain-containing transcription factor related to the ETS1 family of transcription factors, known in mammals to mediate development, disease, and stress response, and two genes that are associated with biomineralization: galaxin, a protein from the organic matrix of the coral skeleton, and a coral-specific gene SCRIP2.