Polychaetes are often used in toxicological studies to understand mechanisms of resistance and for biomarker detection, however, we know of only a few genetic pathways involved in resistance. We found the marine polychaete Ophelina sp.1 (Opheliidae) in sediment containing high copper levels and investigated this phenomenon by measuring metal accumulation in the worms and changes in gene and protein expression. We sequenced the transcriptome of Ophelina sp.1 from both the impacted and reference sediments using 454-sequencing and analysed their proteomes using differential in gel electrophoresis (DIGE). We used the sequenced transcriptome to guide protein identification. Transcripts coding for the copper chaperone, Atox1, were up-regulated in the worms inhabiting the high copper sediment. In addition, genes coding for respiratory proteins, detoxification proteins and cytoskeletal proteins were significantly altered in metal-exposed worms; many of these changes were also detected in the proteome. This dual approach has provided a better understanding of heavy metal resistance in polychaetes and we now have a wider range of suitable indicator genes and proteins for future biomarker development.
Neave, M., Streten-Joyce, C., Nouwens, A., Glasby, C., Mcguinness, K., Parry, D., & Gibb, K. (2012). The transcriptome and proteome are altered in marine polychaetes (Annelida) exposed to elevated metal levels. Journal of Proteomics, 75(9), 2721-2735. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jprot.2012.03.031