Cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A) in Killifish (Fundulus Heteroclitus): Heritability of Altered Expression and Relationship to Survival in Contaminated Sediments

Toxicol Sci. 2002 Jul;68(1):69-81. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/68.1.69.


Previous research has shown that killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) inhabiting a creosote-contaminated site on the Elizabeth River in Virginia exhibit little induction of cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A) protein expression and activity upon exposure to typical CYP1A-inducing chemicals. We characterized the CYP1A response of first, second, and third generation laboratory-raised offspring of feral Elizabeth River killifish to exposure to sediments from the contaminated site as well as the prototypical polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-type CYP1A inducers beta-naphthoflavone (BNF) and 3-methylcholanthrene (3-MC). The Elizabeth River offspring's responses were compared to those of offspring of killifish from two reference sites (King's Creek, Virginia, and Russell Creek, North Carolina). As with feral Elizabeth River killifish, the first generation embryos and larvae were refractory to CYP1A induction. However, the response observed in 3-year-old first generation adults, as well as with second and third generation fish, was much closer to that observed in reference-site fish. We suggest that the pattern of altered CYP1A response in Elizabeth River killifish, while persistent and heritable for one generation, is mostly nongenetically based. Additionally, we investigated the hypothesis that low CYP1A activity (measured as in ovo EROD activity) would correlate to increased survival in Elizabeth River sediment pore water; this hypothesis was not supported by our results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Creosote / analysis
  • Creosote / toxicity
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / genetics
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / drug effects
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / enzymology
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Fresh Water
  • Fundulidae*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Methylcholanthrene / toxicity
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • beta-Naphthoflavone / toxicity


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Methylcholanthrene
  • beta-Naphthoflavone
  • Creosote
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1