Development of biomarker for detecting silver nanoparticles exposure using a GAL4 enhancer trap screening in Drosophila

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2013 Sep;36(2):548-556. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2013.05.013. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) have been widely used in commercial goods ranging from medical devices to home appliances. Their widespread application increase the risk related to their potential toxicity. Although several studies showed their acute hazardous effects on living animals, our understanding of chronic effects of AgNPs exposed by the environment we encounter in our everyday lives is still very limited. This is partly because of the lack of versatile animal model system for studying AgNPs effects on terrestrial animals including human. In this study, we used Drosophila model to study AgNPs toxicity in terrestrial animals, and found that long-term exposure of AgNPs, but not Ag ions, at low level (0.1 and 1μg/mL) significantly shortened the lifespan. By taking advantage of the power of Drosophila genetics, we also isolated a GAL4 enhancer trap line called M95, in which the expression of GAL4 is up-regulated in response to ingestion of AgNPs at concentrations as low as 0.1μg/mL. Interestingly M95 flies showed significantly increased tolerance to both AgNPs treatment and dry starvation probably due to up-regulation of JNK signaling. These findings suggest not only that M95 may be a very useful biomarker of AgNPs because of its high sensitivity and tolerance to AgNPs, but also that Drosophila may be a versatile terrestrial invertebrate model for studying the effects of AgNPs on human health.

Keywords: 5-bromo-4-chloro-indolyl-β-d-galactopyranoside; AgNPs; Biomarker; Drosophila melanogaster; GAL4 enhancer trap; JNK; NPs; Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs); X-gal; c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase; nanoparticles; silver nanoparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drosophila / drug effects*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Genes, Reporter
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Longevity / drug effects
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • Metal Nanoparticles / toxicity*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Silver / toxicity*
  • Starvation / genetics
  • Starvation / metabolism
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • GAL4 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Silver
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases