Metal accumulation and expression of genes encoding for metallothionein and copper transporters in a chronically exposed wild population of the fish Hyphessobrycon luetkenii
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In the present study, metal (As, Cd, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb and Zn) accumulation and expression of genes involved in metal metabolism (metallothioneins, ATP7A and CTR1) were evaluated in gills and muscle of the fish Hyphessobrycon luetkenii living in the João Dias creek, a site historically (~1870-1996) contaminated with a metal mixture associated with copper mining (Minas do Camaquã, southern Brazil). Fish were collected in a metal impacted site of the João Dias creek and kept in a cage at this site (PP fish) or translocated to a non-metal impacted reach of this creek (PC fish). Gill metal concentrations and metallothionein gene expression were lower in PC fish than in PP fish at any experimental time (24, 48 and 72 h). In muscle, no significant changes were observed. These findings indicate that metal accumulated in gills of wild fish chronically exposed to the metal mixture are more easily excreted than those accumulated in the muscle. In this case, expression of gene encoding for metallothionein is shown to play a key role in the regulation of metal accumulation in gills of H. luetkenii living in an area historically contaminated with a metal mixture associated with copper mining.