Ciphergen ProteinChip Technology is a proteomic tool, used for the discovery of new and sensitive biomarkers. This approach was used to evaluate the protein profile of crabs exposed to various pollutants. Two different exposure experiments were performed: spider crabs (Hyas araneus) were exposed for 3 weeks to diallyl phatalate (DAP), bisphenol A (BisA) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE-47), while shore crabs (Carcinus maeanas) were exposed to crude oil, crude oil spiked with alkylphenols (APs) and 4-nonylphenol (NP). Gender and species-related protein pattern alterations were observed and compared to controls. Results showed different responses to pollutants by the two species. Major disruption in protein peak expression was observed in samples exposed to mixtures of pollutants, i.e. oil spiked with APs. Compared to shore crab, spider crab species showed a lower degree of response in terms of number of altered protein peaks following exposure. In general, female individuals of both species showed a larger number of significantly altered proteins compared to males. Data analysis by non-metric multi-dimensional scaling (MDS) was performed. Bi-dimesional-MDS plots revealed a good separation of groups for both spider and shore crabs. In some cases, a good discrimination can also be observed between the two genders within each treatment. Results highlight the potential of crabs as sentinel organisms for the aquatic environment. The results indicate that SELDI-ToF technology is a powerful tool to discover protein expression signatures for different pollutants and sex dependent responses.
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