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Arsenic Exposure to Killifish During Embryogenesis Alters Muscle Development

Author(s): Gaworeckik, K.M.; R.W. Chapman; M.G. Neely; A.R. D’Amico; L.J. Bain

NCCOS Center: HML (

Publication Type: Journal Article

Journal Title: Toxicological Sciences

Date of Publication: 2012

Reference Information: 125(2): 522-531

Keywords: arsenic; Fundulus; muscle; embryonic; CapZ; development; microarray

Abstract: Epidemiological studies have correlated arsenic exposure in drinking water with adverse developmental outcomes such as stillbirths, spontaneous abortions, neonatal mortality, low birth weight, delays in the use of musculature, and altered locomotor activity. Killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) were used as a model to help to determine the mechanisms by which arsenic could impact development. Killifish embryos were exposed to three different sodium arsenite concentrations and were collected at 32 h postfertilization (hpf), 42 hpf, 168 hpf, or < 24 h post-hatch. A killifish oligo microarray was developed and used to examine gene expression changes between control and 25-ppm arsenic-exposed hatchlings. With artificial neural network analysis of the transcriptomic data, accurate prediction of each group (control vs. arsenic-exposed embryos) was obtained using a small subset of only 332 genes. The genes differentially expressed include those involved in cell cycle, development, ubiquitination, and the musculature. Several of the genes involved in cell cycle regulation and muscle formation, such as fetuin B, cyclin D–binding protein 1, and CapZ, were differentially expressed in the embryos in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Examining muscle structure in the hatchlings showed that arsenic exposure during embryogenesis significantly reduces the average muscle fiber size, which is coupled with a significant 2.1- and 1.6-fold upregulation of skeletal myosin light and heavy chains, respectively. These findings collectively indicate that arsenic exposure during embryogenesis can initiate molecular changes that appear to lead to aberrant muscle formation.