[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Disseminated neoplasia, a diffuse tumor of the hemic system, is characterized
in many bivalve mollusks by hemolymph containing 1–100% mitotic hemocytes.
Little is known about the onset and chronic distribution of neoplasia in populations
of Mya arenaria (Soft-shell Clam), though studies have reported episodic exposure
to environmental contaminants or an infectious agent as a potential cause of this disease.
Here we provide the first set of continuous data on neoplasia in Soft-shell Clams,
from three sites in New England where sediments have been characterized regarding
their granulometry, composition, contaminants, and clam densities. When correlating
sediment characteristics to terminal neoplasia (76–100% neoplastic or rounded,
unattached hemocytes), New Bedford Harbor, MA, which is the most contaminated
site, had the highest frequency of treminal neoplasia (maximum of 9.49% ± 0.78 SE),
and the most pristine site, Ogunquit, ME, displayed the lowest frequencies (maximum
of 0.47% ± 0.05 SE). Correlations of frequency of neoplasia to known environmental
contaminants also suggests that fully neoplastic individuals were found only at sites
of increased levels of heavy metals, PCBs, and PAHs. In addition, we documented
the highest frequency of clams with terminal neoplasia from New Bedford Harbor in
December (9.49% ± 0.78 SE) when seawater temperatures were low, and the lowest
frequency in July (1.08 ± 0.4 SE) when seawater temperatures were highest. These
results may indicate vulnerability of neoplastic clams to seasonal increases in environmental
temperature and resulting oxidative stress. Based on shell measurements and a
theoretical mathematical age model (which correlates susceptibility to neoplasia with
age and sexual maturity), we suggest that the Soft-shell Clam is most susceptible to
this disease between one and two years of age (9.5% frequency at 1 year, 22.25% incidence
at 1.5 years, and 57.14% incidence at 2 years).
No preview · Article · Sep 2013 · Northeastern Naturalist
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Disseminated neoplasia, a diffuse tumor of the hemolymph system, is one of the six most destructive diseases among bivalve mollusk populations, characterized by the development of abnormal, rounded blood cells that actively proliferate. Though the specific etiology of disseminated neoplasia in Mya arenaria remains undetermined, the involvement of viral pathogens and/or environmental pollutants has been suggested and considered. The current study used 5-bromodeoxyuridine (BrDU) known to induce the murine leukemia virus and filtered neoplastic hemolymph to initiate disseminated neoplasia in clams from different populations and size classes respectively. M. arenaria from three locations of different natural neoplasia occurrences were divided into a control and three experimental treatments and injected with 200μl of sterile filtered seawater or 50-200μg/ml BrDU respectively. In a concurrent experiment, animals from different size classes were injected with 2.5% total blood volume of 0.2μm filtered blood from a fully neoplastic animal. Animals were biopsied weekly and cell neoplasia development was counted and scored as 0-25, 26-50, 51-75 and 76-100% neoplastic hemocytes (stages 1-4) in 50μl samples. BrDU injection demonstrated that neoplasia development in M. arenaria was dose dependent on BrDU concentration. In addition, natural disease prevalence at the source location determined initiation of neoplasia induction, with animals from the area of the highest natural disease occurrence displaying fastest neoplasia development (p=0.0037). This could imply that depending on the natural disease occurrence, a potential infectious agent may remain dormant in normal (stage 1) individuals in higher concentrations until activated, i.e. through chemical injection or potentially stress. The size experiment demonstrated that only M. arenaria between 40 and 80mm developed 26-100% neoplastic hemocytes when injected with filtered neoplastic hemolymph, indicating that individuals smaller than 20mm or larger than 80mm were not or no longer susceptible to disease development. So far neoplasia studies have not considered natural disease prevalence or size involvement in neoplasia development and our results indicate that these should be future considerations in neoplasia examinations.
No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Background/Question/Methods
The study of ecology arose in the mid-nineteenth century from a combination of natural history and geology and is presently defined by the Ecological Society of America as “the scientific discipline that is concerned with the relationships between organisms and their past, present, and future environments”. Effective application of ecology to global problems depends in part on educating students in colleges and universities to nurture their interests in ecology. As the initial exposure to further studies, the introductory courses take on added importance in these transforming times in biological education. Two thirds of biology instructors consider the key concepts of ecology essential for introductory biology courses. Nevertheless, a 2004 survey of biology department administrators found very little difference in introductory biology curricula between 2004 and a similar survey done in 1990. This study aimed to determine the percentage and therefore importance of course time allocated to ecological topics. Pennsylvania Universities and Colleges, in rural and urban regions of the state, were approached and their lab and lecture syllabi for Introductory Biology were evaluated and content was grouped into eight topic categories, including Ecology. Percentages of topic coverage were calculated and analyzed using a One-Way- ANOVA.
Overall there was no significantly different time allocated to ecological topics in the different locations within Pennsylvania. However, percentages of ecological topics covered in Introductory Biology Courses were significantly lower than expected according to educator surveys. Our results therefore indicate that the importance of ecological course content is not valued as high as it should be according to educator surveys.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: While it is known that cytoplasmic retention of p53 occurs in many solid tumors, the mechanisms responsible for this retention have not been positively identified. Since heatshock proteins like mortalin have been associated with p53 inactivation in other tumors, the current study sought to characterize this potential interaction in never before examined colorectal adenocarcinoma cell lines. Six cell lines, one with 3 different fractions, were examined to determine expression of p53 and mortalin and characterize their cellular localization. Most of these cell lines displayed punctate p53 and mortalin localization in the cell cytoplasm with the exception of HCT-8 and HCT116 379.2 cells, where p53 was not detected. Nuclear p53 was only observed in HCT-116 40-16, LS123, and HT-29 cell lines. Mortalin was only localized in the cytoplasm in all cell lines. Co-immunoprecipitation and immunohistochemistry revealed that p53 and mortalin were bound and co-localized in the cytoplasmic fraction of four cell lines, HCT-116 (40-16 and 386; parental and heterozygous fractions respectively of the same cell line), HT-29, LS123 and LoVo, implying that p53 nuclear function is limited in those cell lines by being restricted to the cytoplasm. Mortalin gene expression levels were higher than gene expression levels of p53 in all cell lines. Cell lines with cytoplasmic sequestration of p53, however, also displayed elevated p53 gene expression levels compared to cell lines without p53 sequestration. Our data reveal the characteristic cytoplasmic sequestration of p53 by the heat shock protein mortalin in human colorectal adenocarcinoma cell lines, as is the case for other cancers, such as glioblastomas and hepatocellular carcinomas.
No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The common shallow-water sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus is capable of surviving inorganic phosphate exposures as high as 3.2 mg L(-1) and organic phosphate exposures of 1000 mg L(-1) . Nonetheless, chronic exposure to low, medium, and high-sublethal concentrations of organic phosphate inhibits the muscle enzyme acetyl cholinesterase (AChE), responsible for the break down of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, as well as inhibiting contractions in the muscles associated with the Aristotle's lantern. AChE activity, measured in both a static enzyme assay and by vesicular staining, displayed concentration-dependent declines of activity in individuals maintained in organic phosphate for 4 weeks. The activity of AChE was not adversely affected by exposure to inorganic phosphate or seawater controls over the same time period. Maximum force of muscle contraction and rates of muscle contraction and relaxation also decreased with chronic exposure to increasing concentrations of organic phosphate. Chronic exposure to inorganic phosphates elicited no response except at the highest concentration, where the maximum force of muscular contraction increased compared to controls. These findings indicate that shallow-water populations of Lytechinus variegatus subjected to organic phosphate pollutants may display impaired muscular activity that is potentially related to the inhibition of the muscle relaxant enzyme AChE, and subsequently muscular overstimulation, and fatigue.
No preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Environmental Toxicology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Xenobalanus globicipitis, a unique type of small pseudo-stalked barnacle occurs on the appendages of cetaceans, including the common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus. In this study, we examined attachment structures of X. globicipitis and modifications to the skin of T. truncatus in areas of attachment compared to skin nearby an attachment site. Barnacles and their six calcareous footplates were measured for their length and width. There was a positive correlation of barnacle width and length to footplate width and length. The thickness of the stratum corneum increased significantly in areas of attachment compared to skin nearby a footplate. The mitotic stratum germinativum at the base of the dermal papillae did not change significantly in areas of attachment compared to skin nearby a footplate. The stratum germinativum lining the lateral walls of the dermal papillae was significantly thicker in areas of skin nearby a footplate compared to in areas of attachment. Skin of T. truncatus nearby a footplate, displayed dermal papillae extending from the dermis and pointing roughly perpendicular to the epidermal stratum corneum. At sites of X. globicipitis attachment, the dermal papillae were forced to extend laterally, parallel to the stratum corneum, and the dermal papillae length to width ratio at an attachment site was significantly higher than on skin near an attachment site. Our results show that attachment of X. globicipitis through production of footplates organized into calcareous rings, leads to a thickened stratum corneum of the epidermis, a thinner lateral mitotic stratum germinativum and displaced structures of the upper dermis. These resulting modifications to the epidermis and dermis of the host may add to securing barnacle attachment to its host.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Journal of Morphology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The human p53 tumour suppressor protein is inactivated in many cancers and is also a major player in apoptotic responses to cellular stress. The p53 protein and the two other members of this protein family (p63, p73) are encoded by distinct genes and their functions have been extensively documented for humans and some other vertebrates. The structure and relative expression levels for members of the p53 superfamily have also been reported for most major invertebrate taxa. The functions of homologous proteins have been investigated for only a few invertebrates (specifically, p53 in flies, nematodes and recently a sea anemone). These studies of classical model organisms all suggest that the gene family originally evolved to mediate apoptosis of damaged germ cells or to protect germ cells from genotoxic stress. Here, we have correlated data from a number of molluscan and other invertebrate sequencing projects to provide a framework for understanding p53 signalling pathways in marine bivalve cancer and stress biology. These data suggest that (a) the two identified p53 and p63/73-like proteins in soft shell clam (Mya arenaria), blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) and Northern European squid (Loligo forbesi) have identical core sequences and may be splice variants of a single gene, while some molluscs and most other invertebrates have two or more distinct genes expressing different p53 family members; (b) transcriptional activation domains (TADs) in bivalve p53 and p63/73-like protein sequences are 67-69% conserved with human p53, while those in ecdysozoan, cnidarian, placozoan and choanozoan eukaryotes are ≤33% conserved; (c) the Mdm2 binding site in the transcriptional activation domain is 100% conserved in all sequenced bivalve p53 proteins (e.g. Mya, Mytilus, Crassostrea and Spisula) but is not present in other non-deuterostome invertebrates; (d) an Mdm2 homologue has been cloned for Mytilus trossulus; (e) homologues for both human p53 upstream regulatory and transcriptional target genes exist in molluscan genomes (missing are ARF, CIP1 and BH3 only proteins) and (f) p53 is demonstrably involved in bivalve haemocyte and germinoma cancers. We usually do not know enough about the molecular biology of marine invertebrates to address molecular mechanisms that characterize particular diseases. Understanding the molecular basis of naturally occurring diseases in marine bivalves is a virtually unexplored aspect of toxicoproteomics and genomics and related drug discovery. Additionally, increases in coastal development and concomitant increases in aquatic pollutants have driven interest in developing models appropriate for evaluating potential hazardous compounds or conditions found in the aquatic environment. Data reviewed in this study are coupled with recent developments in our understanding the molecular biology of the marine bivalve p53 superfamily. Taken together, they suggest that both structurally and functionally, bivalve p53 family proteins are the most highly conserved members of this gene superfamily so far identified outside of higher vertebrates and invertebrate chordates. Marine bivalves provide some of the most relevant and best understood models currently available for experimental studies by biomedical and marine environmental researchers.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Advances in Marine Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: All echinoderms have unique hydraulic structures called tube feet, known for their roles in light sensitivity, respiration, chemoreception and locomotion. In the green sea urchin, the most distal portion of these tube feet contain five ossicles arranged as a light collector with its concave surface facing towards the ambient light. These ossicles are perforated and lined with pigment cells that express a PAX6 protein that is universally involved in the development of eyes and sensory organs in other bilaterians. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based sequencing and real time quantitative PCR (qPCR) also demonstrate the presence and differential expression of a rhabdomeric-like opsin within these tube feet. Morphologically, nerves that could serve to transmit information to the test innervate the tube feet, and the differential expression of opsin transcripts in the tube feet is inversely, and significantly, related to the amount of light that tube feet are exposed to depending on their location on the test. The expression of these genes, the differential expression of opsin based on light exposure and the unique morphological features at the distal portion of the tube foot strongly support the hypothesis that in addition to previously identified functional roles of tube feet they are also photosensory organs that detect and respond to changes in the underwater light field.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The unique pattern of small tubercles on the leading edge of the dorsal fins of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) has been widely noted in the literature, though their structure or function has never been conclusively identified. We examined external morphology and microanatomy of the tubercles for further understanding of the nature of the tubercles. Measurements were taken of height and peak-to-peak distance of the tubercles using scaled photographs. Mean tubercle height was standardized as a percentage of the dorsal fin height and ranged from 0.63 to 0.87%. Mean peak-to-peak distance ranged from 4.2 ± 2.0 to 5.6 ± 2.0 mm. The microstructure analysis of the dorsal fin leading edge, trailing edge and tubercles revealed an epidermal thickness of 0.7-2.7 mm with the thickest epidermis at the tubercular apex. The epidermis contained three distinct strata (=layers), including the stratum corneum, spinosum, and basale. The stratum corneum was significantly thickened in tubercles, over four times thicker than in the leading or trailing edge of the fin. The stratum spinosum, composed of lipokeratinocytes and lamellar oil bodies, was significantly thinner in the trailing edge than in the other two sites. There was no significant difference in the stratum basale among the three sites. Volume fraction of lipokeratinocytes was significantly higher at the sides of the leading edge and the apex of the tubercles, while volume fraction of lamellar oil bodies was significantly lower at the apex of the tubercles. Though the function of the tubercles is unknown, their position, hardened structure and increased epidermal stratum corneum suggest that they may have hydrodynamic importance.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Journal of Morphology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, is the only non-chordate deuterostome model with a fully sequenced genome. Chromosomal localization of individual genes and resulting gene maps are unavailable for this or for any sea urchin. As a result, the purple sea urchin genome has not been mapped onto specific chromosomes and remains inaccessible to genome-wide approaches addressing questions that require positional information for particular genes. Here we describe the first successful methods for karyotyping and localizing specific gene loci on chromosomes of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and those of the phylogenetically related Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Both species have 42 chromosomes in their diploid genomes (n = 21). There are 2 large, 8 medium, and 10 small pairs, plus one putative sex pair. In both species, bindin genes were localized to 2 pair of homologous chromosomes by fluorescent in situ hybridization. Fluorescently labeled bacterial artificial chromosome clones generated from S. purpuratus for the functionally related genes brachyury, foxa, and foxb were localized to different chromosomes. Our protocols provide previously unavailable tools for developing a gene map for the purple sea urchin genome.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · Biological Bulletin