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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Modulation of glutathione and glutamate-L-cysteine ligase by methylmercury during mouse development.

The antioxidant tripeptide glutathione has been proposed to be important in defense against oxidative stress and heavy metal toxicity. We evaluated alterations in glutathione regulation and synthesis associated with low-level chronic methylmercury (MeHg) exposure in the developing mouse fetus. Female C57Bl/6 mice were given 0, 3, or 10 ppm MeHg in the drinking water for 2 weeks prior to breeding and throughout pregnancy. Fetuses were collected on gestational days (gd) 12 and 16. Total glutathione, reduced glutathione (GSH), oxidized glutathione (GSSR), and glutamate-L-cysteine ligase (Glcl) activity were assessed in yolk sacs and fetuses at gd 16. Western and Northern blots for Glcl-catalytic (Glclc) and Glcl-regulatory (Glclr) subunits were performed on gd 12 and gd 16 fetuses. There were no changes in total glutathione in gd 16 mouse fetuses with exposure, but there were dose-related decreases in GSH and increases in GSSR. In contrast, visceral yolk sacs exhibited an increase in total glutathione in the low-dose groups, but no changes in the high-dose group. There were no changes in Glcl activity in fetuses, but there was a 2-fold increase in Glcl activity in yolk sacs from both low-dose and high-dose groups. There was a 2-fold induction in GLCLC: mRNA and protein in the gd 16 yolk sacs at both 3 and 10 ppm MeHg. No treatment-related changes in Glclr protein in either gd 12 or gd 16 yolk sacs or fetuses were found. Thus, the yolk sac is capable of up-regulating Glclc and GSH synthetic capacity in response to MeHg exposure. This increase appears to be sufficient to resist MeHg-induced GSH depletion in the yolk sac; however fetal glutathione redox status is compromised with exposure to 10 ppm MeHg.[1]


  1. Modulation of glutathione and glutamate-L-cysteine ligase by methylmercury during mouse development. Thompson, S.A., White, C.C., Krejsa, C.M., Eaton, D.L., Kavanagh, T.J. Toxicol. Sci. (2000) [Pubmed]
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