Alterations in the atlantic COD (Gadus morhua) hepatic thiol-proteome after methylmercury exposure

O. A. Karlsen, D. Sheehan, A. Goksøyr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Proteomic studies in general have demonstrated that the most effective and thorough analysis of biological samples requires subfractionation and/or enrichment prior to downstream processing. In the present study, Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) liver samples were fractionated using activated thiol sepharose to isolate hepatic proteins containing free/reactive cysteines. This subset of proteins is of special interest when studying the physiological effects attributed to methylmercury (MeHg) exposure. Methylmercury is a persistent environmental contaminant that has a potent affinity toward thiol groups, and can directly bind proteins via available cysteine residues. Further, alterations in the cod thiol-proteome following MeHg exposure (2 mg/kg body weight) were explored with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis combined with downstream mass spectrometry analyses for protein identifications. Thirty-five protein spots were found to respond to MeHg exposure, and 13 of these were identified when searching cod-specific databases with acquired mass spectrometry data. Among the identified thiol-containing proteins, some are known to respond to MeHg treatment, including constituents of the cytoskeleton, and proteins involved in oxidative stress responses, protein synthesis, protein folding, and energy metabolism. Methylmercury also appeared to affect cod heme metabolism/turnover, producing significantly altered levels of hemoglobin and hemopexin in liver following metal exposure. The latter finding suggests that MeHg may also affect the hematological system in Atlantic cod.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)650-662
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A: Current Issues
Issue number9-11
StatePublished - 3 Jun 2014


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