MEPS 272:215-230 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps272215

Importance of metal-binding proteins in the partitioning of Cd and Zn as trophically available metal (TAM) in the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana

David R. Seebaugh1,2, William G. Wallace1,*

1Center for Environmental Science, College of Staten Island, 6S-310, City University of New York, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, New York 10314, USA
2Present address: Department of Biology, Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York 10016, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Studies have shown that the trophic transfer of certain metals in aquatic systems may be controlled by the internal distribution of metal within prey and that this distribution may be influenced by detoxification mechanisms (i.e. metals bound to metal-binding proteins [metallothioneins, MT] may be more available to predators than metals associated with insoluble cellular constituents). The purpose of this investigation was to examine the interactive effects of Cd and Zn exposure on the accumulation and subcellular distribution of these metals in the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana. Particular attention was given to the partitioning of metals to a subcellular compartment containing heat-stable proteins (HSP) (e.g. MT), heat-denatured proteins (HDP) (e.g. Œenzymes¹) and organelles, here considered as trophically available metal (TAM). Adult A. franciscana were exposed for 3 d to Cd (control, 1, 89 or 445 µM and Zn-control) or Zn (control, 1, 89 or 445 µM and Cd-control) through solution using radioisotopes (109Cd and 65Zn) as tracers of stable metals. Following exposure, various operationally defined subcellular fractions were obtained. Increased binding of Cd to HSP resulted in increased partitioning of Cd to the TAM compartment (i.e. TAM-Cd% increased from 57 to 80% over the range of Cd exposures). This increase in TAM was greater than proportional at the 1 µM Cd exposure concentration and could result in a Œbioenhancement¹ of Cd trophic transfer to predators. Exposure to elevated concentrations of Cd (89 and 445 µM) also resulted in a ~50% suppression in Zn accumulation by A. franciscana. Upon increasing Zn exposure, a shift in the subcellular partitioning of Zn among TAM fractions (from HSP to HDP and organelles) maintained a TAM-Zn% of ~65%. As a verification of the TAM concept, a direct relationship was observed between the partitioning of Cd and Zn to the TAM compartment of A. franciscana exposed to the Cd-control/Zn-control treatment and absorption of these metals by the grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio.


KEY WORDS: Trophically available metal · TAM · Subcellular partitioning · Metallothioneins · MT · Bioenhancement · Artemia franciscana · Cadmium · Zinc


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