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

Mechanisms of imposex induction in the mud snail, Ilyanassa obsoleta: TBT as a neurotoxin and aromatase inhibitor.

The occurrence of imposex, imposition of male sex characteristics on female snails, has been extensively documented throughout the world. Tributyltin (TBT) and other organotins have been causally linked to imposex induction at levels as low as 2 ng/l. There are several proposed mechanisms of action. First, TBT has been shown to be neurotoxic and to accumulate in snail ganglia. Peptide hormones control sexual differentiation in gastropods, and one hypothesis is that TBT acts as a neurotoxin to abnormally release the peptide hormone Penis Morphogenic Factor (PMF). However, PMF has not been characterized to date. The neuropeptide APGWamide significantly induces imposex in the mud snail, Ilyanassa obsoleta, at 10(-16) moles sub-cutaneous (SQ) injection over 2 weeks, and could be the PMF in this species. A second hypothesis is that TBT inhibits aromatase activity leading to increased testosterone levels and decreased estradiol. In vitro studies with snail digestive gland microsomes showed that TBT-dosed snails not exhibiting imposex had a 52% reduction in aromatase activity. Although the role of vertebrate sex steroids is not known in gastropods, it is possible that the combination of changes in peptide and steroid hormones may lead to imposex induction at extremely low doses of TBT.[1]


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