Differential gene expression in Fundulus heteroclitus due to arsenic exposure

Horacio Gonzalez, University of Texas at El Paso


Arsenic is present as a contaminant in drinking water supplies throughout the world, which may cause unhealthy exposures to people. Several epidemiological studies have linked arsenic ingestion in drinking water and adverse health effects such as cancer, respiratory illnesses and diabetes. As a result of this, the United States Environmental Protection Agency lowered the drinking water standards from 50ppb to 10ppb in 2001. There was a strong opposition from public utilities to lower the arsenic limits due to high implementation costs and uncertainty about its benefits. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency and other research centers requested research to be conducted in order to understand the effects of arsenic at low doses under different perspectives, including the use of animal models. In this context, this dissertation project investigated the effects of arsenic in gene expression using the fish mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus). Three different environmentally relevant doses were employed (230ppb, 575ppb and 1720ppb) and the effects of the exposure in offspring of the exposed fish were analyzed. There was an increase in the incidence of fish with morphological abnormalities such as curved tails in the 230ppb and 1720ppb doses. Several genes were differentially expressed as a result of parental exposure, including genes involved in muscle contraction such as myosins and tropomyosins, structural cytokeratin genes, signaling genes such as parvalbumin, genes involved in immune responses and oxidative stress and some expressed sequence tags. The differential expression of some of these genes may be related to the observed developmental abnormalities and enhances our knowledge about the mode of action of arsenic at the molecular level.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Gonzalez, Horacio, "Differential gene expression in Fundulus heteroclitus due to arsenic exposure" (2007). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3262914.