Differential Gene Expression in Salinity-Stressed Skin Cells Derived From the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
Blake C. Ellis1,2; Mark S. Kindy1,2,5; Jin Yu2; John E. Baatz1,3; Annalaura Mancia1; Gregory W. Warr1; Sebastiano Gattoni-Celli1,4,5
1Marine Biomedicine and Environmental Sciences Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA; 2Department of Neurosciences and Neuroscience Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA; 3Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA; 4Department of Radiation Oncology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA; 5Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston, SC USA
The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (BND) has attracted the interest of marine bioscientists as a potential sentinel for human health, due to the remarkable sensitivity of the dolphin's own health to environmental changes in its aquatic habitat and due to this marine mammal's relative likeness to humans. Consequently, a greater knowledge of how BND responds to environmental stress is needed, but such studies are limited by its status as a protected species. We have established cell cultures and cell lines from the epidermis of BND as an in vitro tool for evaluating the impacts of environmental stressors and biotoxins on this marine mammal. Such cell models provide a novel experimental methodology to studying dolphin skin as well as a system for comparing the responses of marine mammals and humans to various insults. We have begun evaluation of BND skin cell cultures exposed to varying concentrations of salinity using two-dimensional differential in-gel electrophoresis (DIGE) and cDNA microarray analysis, respectively. These proteomic and transcriptomic techniques provided evidence of significant up- and down-regulations of several proteins and transcripts, respectively, in response to salinity changes in the culture medium. The details of the analyses and the specific genes identified from these techniques will be discussed. Our experimental observations support the use of these established cell lines for studying the impact of environmental stressors on BND at the molecular level. The effects seen in the dolphin cells will be compared to those found in human skin cells, and similarities will signify mechanisms shared by BND and humans in the response to stress evoked by specific insults. This research effort may lead to a better understanding of the dolphin's skin as a crucial interface between these marine mammals and the ocean environment in which they live.