Effects of methyl and inorganic mercury exposure on genome homeostasis and mitochondrial function in Caenorhabditis elegans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Mercury toxicity mechanisms have the potential to induce DNA damage and disrupt cellular processes, like mitochondrial function. Proper mitochondrial function is important for cellular bioenergetics and immune signaling and function. Reported impacts of mercury on the nuclear genome (nDNA) are conflicting and inconclusive, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) impacts are relatively unknown. In this study, we assessed genotoxic (mtDNA and nDNA), metabolic, and innate immune impacts of inorganic and organic mercury exposure in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genotoxic outcomes measured included DNA damage, DNA damage repair (nucleotide excision repair, NER; base excision repair, BER), and genomic copy number following MeHg and HgCl2 exposure alone and in combination with known DNA damage-inducing agents ultraviolet C radiation (UVC) and hydrogen peroxide (H2 O2 ), which cause bulky DNA lesions and oxidative DNA damage, respectively. Following exposure to both MeHg and HgCl2 , low-level DNA damage (∼0.25 lesions/10kb mtDNA and nDNA) was observed. Unexpectedly, a higher MeHg concentration reduced damage in both genomes compared to controls. However, this observation was likely the result of developmental delay. In co-exposure treatments, both mercury compounds increased initial DNA damage (mtDNA and nDNA) in combination with H2 O2 exposure, but had no impact in combination with UVC exposure. Mercury exposure both increased and decreased DNA damage removal via BER. DNA repair after H2 O2 exposure in mercury-exposed nematodes resulted in damage levels lower than measured in controls. Impacts to NER were not detected. mtDNA copy number was significantly decreased in the MeHg-UVC and MeHg-H2 O2 co-exposure treatments. Mercury exposure had metabolic impacts (steady-state ATP levels) that differed between the compounds; HgCl2 exposure decreased these levels, while MeHg slightly increased levels or had no impact. Both mercury species reduced mRNA levels for immune signaling-related genes, but had mild or no effects on survival on pathogenic bacteria. Overall, mercury exposure disrupted mitochondrial endpoints in a mercury-compound dependent fashion.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wyatt, LH; Luz, AL; Cao, X; Maurer, LL; Blawas, AM; Aballay, A; Pan, WKY; Meyer, JN

Published Date

  • April 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 52 /

Start / End Page

  • 31 - 48

PubMed ID

  • 28242054

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5394729

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1568-7856

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1568-7864

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.dnarep.2017.02.005


  • eng