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Imposex induction is mediated through the retinoid X receptor signalling pathway in the neogastropod Nucella lapillus
Castro, L.F.C.; Lima, D.; Machado, A.; Melo, C.; Hiromori, Y.; Nishikawa, J.; Nakanishi, T.; Reis-Henriques, M.A.; Santos, M.M. (2007). Imposex induction is mediated through the retinoid X receptor signalling pathway in the neogastropod Nucella lapillus. Aquat. Toxicol. 85(1): 57-66.
In: Aquatic Toxicology. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0166-445X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Imposex; Nucella lapillus (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Castro, L.F.C.
  • Lima, D.
  • Machado, A.
  • Melo, C.
  • Hiromori, Y.
  • Nishikawa, J.
  • Nakanishi, T.
  • Reis-Henriques, M.A.
  • Santos, M.M.

    The imposex phenomenon in female prosobranch gastropods provides one of the best documented examples of endocrine disruption in wildlife. While many field studies have demonstrated the negative impact of tributyltin (TBT) upon female gastropods, the mechanism(s) underlying imposex development has not yet been fully clarified. Over the years several hypotheses have been raised to determine the biochemical and molecular determinants of this process. Nevertheless, the interplay between the different suggested pathways (neuroendocrine, steroid and retinoid) is still unknown. Hence, through a combination of exposure experiments, we show that the 9-cis-retinoic acid (9cisRA), the proposed natural ligand of the retinoic X receptor (RXR), induces imposex in females of Nucella lapillus to the same degree as tributyltin, when administered at similar concentrations (1 μg/g body weight). Methoprene acid, a selective ligand for RXR, also induces imposex, albeit to a lower degree than that of the positive control. In contrast, testosterone significantly induced imposex, but had no effect on female penis induction, while the neuropeptide APGWamide had no effect on imposex development. These results clearly demonstrate that imposex induction in N. lapillus is mediated through the modulation of the RXR signalling pathways. In addition to the effects reported in female dogwhelks, both TBT and RA significantly increased male penis length, thus suggesting that TBT may also impact male secondary sex organs through the RXR signalling pathways. As a step for future studies, we have cloned the orthologue of N. lapillus RXR and provide experimental evidence that it binds 9cisRA. Finally, the basal expression level of RXR in several tissues of N. lapillus was determined through real-time PCR, thus showing that RXR is ubiquitously expressed in mollusc tissues, with the highest expression levels being recorded in female and male gonads. The mechanistic impacts of the overall findings to the imposex process are discussed.

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