Tubulin posttranslational modifications induced by cadmium in the sponge Clathrina clathrus

Aquat Toxicol. 2013 Sep 15;140-141:98-105. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2013.05.013. Epub 2013 May 21.


As sessile filter feeders, sponges are exposed to environmental stress due to pollutants of both anthropogenic and natural origins and are able to accumulate harmful substances. Thus, sponges are considered a good tool for the biomonitoring of coastal areas. In this study, we used biochemical and immunocytochemical analyses to provide new data on the cadmium-related changes in sponge cells. In particular, we analyzed the effects of different concentrations of cadmium on the microtubule network in the calcisponge Clathrina clathrus. Quantitative densitometry of the immunoblots showed that, while the levels of α- and β-tubulin remained relatively constant in C. clathrus when exposed to 1 and 5 μM CdCl2, there were progressive shifts in the levels of some tubulin isoforms. Exposure for 24h to sublethal concentrations of cadmium reduced the level of tyrosinated α-tubulin and enhanced the levels of acetylated and detyrosinated α-tubulin relative to the levels in controls. Confocal microscopy analysis of immunolabeled tissue sections showed that the inhibitory effect of cadmium was associated with a decrease in the labeling of the cells with a monoclonal antibody that recognizes tyrosinated α-tubulin. By contrast, the reactivity with a monoclonal antibody that recognizes acetylated α-tubulin and with a polyclonal antibody specific for detyrosinated α-tubulin was enhanced at the same time points. Because the acetylation and detyrosination of α-tubulin occur on stable microtubules, the marked enhancement of α-tubulin acetylation and detyrosination in Cd(2+)-treated cells indicates that divalent Cd ions stabilize microtubules. The possibility that Cd(2+) may increase the stability of cytoplasmic microtubules was tested by exposing Cd(2+)-treated cells to a cold temperature (0°C). As shown, the microtubule bundles induced by Cd(2+), which were labeled by the monoclonal antibodies against acetylated and detyrosinated α-tubulin, were resistant to cold.

Keywords: Cadmium; Microtubule network; Porifera; Tubulin posttranslational modifications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Porifera / drug effects*
  • Porifera / genetics
  • Porifera / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects*
  • Protein Stability / drug effects
  • Tubulin / genetics
  • Tubulin / metabolism*
  • Tyrosine / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Tubulin
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Cadmium
  • Tyrosine