Enhancing the tolerance of zebrafish (Danio rerio) to heavy metal toxicity by the expression of plant phytochelatin synthase

Takafumi Konishi, Sachiko Matsumoto, Yusuke Tsuruwaka, Kentaro Shiraki, Kazumasa Hirata, Yutaka Tamaru, Masahiro Takagi
Journal of Biotechnology 2006 April 10, 122 (3): 316-25
Phytochelatin synthase (PC synthase) catalyzes a biosynthesis of phytochelatins (PCs), which are small molecules and glutathione (GSH)-derived metal-binding peptides that are essential for the detoxification of heavy metal ions in plants, fungi and worms. In order to enhance tolerance to heavy metal cytotoxicity, mRNA coding for PC synthase from Arabidopsis thaliana (AtPCS1) was introduced into the early embryos of zebrafish. As a result, the heterogeneous expression of PC synthase and the synthesis of PCs from GSH in embryos could be detected. The developing embryos expressing PC synthase (PC-embryos) became more tolerant to Cd toxicity (500 microM exposure). PC-embryos had significantly longer apparent lethal times for 50% of the population (LT50) of 8.17+/-1.08 days, although control embryos had apparent LT50 of 5.43+/-0.66 days. These data suggest that PC synthase can function in developmental zebrafish, and that PCs are highly effective in detoxifying Cd toxicity even in the whole body of a vertebrate species.

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