Structural changes in gill DNA reveal the effects of contaminants on Puget Sound fish

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Malins, Donald C.
Stegeman, John J.
Anderson, Jack W.
Johnson, Paul M.
Gold, Jordan
Anderson, Katie M.
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Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
DNA markers
Contaminant effects,
Cytochrome P450 1A
DNA structure
Fish gills
Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy
Structural differences were identified in gill DNA from two groups of English sole collected from Puget Sound, Washington, in October 2000. One group was from the industrialized Duwamish River (DR) in Seattle and the other from relatively clean Quartermaster Harbor (QMH). Chemical markers of sediment contamination [e.g., polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)] established that the DR was substantially more contaminated than QMH. The levels of these chemicals in the sediments of both sites were consistent with levels of cytochrome P450 1A (CYP1A) expression in the gills of English sole from the same sites. Structural differences in gill DNA between the groups were evinced via statistical models of Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) spectra. Marked structural damage was found in the gill DNA of the DR fish as reflected in differences in base functional groups (e.g., C–O and NH2) and conformational properties (e.g., arising from perturbations in vertical base stacking interactions). These DNA differences were used to discriminate between the two fish groups through principal components analysis of mean FT-IR spectra. In addition, logistic regression analysis allowed for the development of a “DNA damage index” to assess the effects of contaminants on the gill. The evidence implies that environmental chemicals contribute to the DNA changes in the gill. The damaged DNA is a promising marker for identifying, through gill biopsies, contaminant effects on fish.
Author Posting. EHP is a publication of the United States government. Publication of EHP lies in the public domain and is therefore without copyright. The definitive version was published in Environmental Health Perspectives 112 (2004): 511-515, doi:10.1289/ehp.6719.
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Environmental Health Perspectives 112 (2004): 511-515
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