Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Toxicology & pharmacology : CBP

Chromatin specialization in bivalve molluscs: a leap forward for the evaluation of Okadaic Acid genotoxicity in the marine environment.

PMID 21946397


Marine biotoxins synthesized by Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) represent one of the most important sources of contamination in marine environments as well as a serious threat to fisheries and aquaculture-based industries in coastal areas. Among these biotoxins Okadaic Acid (OA) is of critical interest as it represents the most predominant Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning biotoxin in the European coasts. Furthermore, OA is a potent tumor promoter with aneugenic and clastogenic effects on the hereditary material, most notably DNA breaks and alterations in DNA repair mechanisms. Therefore, a great effort has been devoted to the biomonitoring of OA in the marine environment during the last two decades, mainly based on physicochemical and physiological parameters using mussels as sentinel organisms. However, the molecular genotoxic effects of this biotoxin make chromatin structure a good candidate for an alternative strategy for toxicity assessment with faster and more sensitive evaluation. To date, the development of chromatin-based studies to this purpose has been hampered by the complete lack of information on chromatin of invertebrate marine organisms, especially in bivalve molluscs. Our preliminary results have revealed the presence of histone variants involved in DNA repair and chromatin specialization in mussels and clams. In this work we use this information to put forward a proposal focused on the development of chromatin-based tests for OA genotoxicity in the marine environment. The implementation of such tests in natural populations has the potential to provide an important leap in the biomonitoring of this biotoxin. The outcome of such monitoring may have critical implications for the evaluation of DNA damage in these marine organisms. They will provide as well important tools for the optimization of their harvesting and for the elaboration of additional tests designed to evaluate the safety of their consumption and potential implications for consumer's health.