RNA sequencing and proteomic profiling reveal different alterations by dietary methylmercury in the hippocampal transcriptome and proteome in BALB/c mice

Metallomics. 2021 May 24;13(5):mfab022. doi: 10.1093/mtomcs/mfab022.


Methylmercury (MeHg) is a highly neurotoxic form of mercury (Hg) present in seafood. Here, we recorded and compared proteomic and transcriptomic changes in hippocampus of male BALB/c mice exposed to two doses of MeHg. Mice were fed diets spiked with 0.28 mg MeHg kg-1, 5 mg MeHg kg-1, or an unspiked control diet for 77 days. Total mercury content was significantly (P < 0.05) increased in brain tissue of both MeHg-exposed groups (18 ± 2 mg Hg kg-1 and 0.56 ± 0.06 mg Hg kg-1). Hippocampal protein and ribonucleic acid (RNA) expression levels were significantly altered both in tissues from mice receiving a low dose MeHg (20 proteins/294 RNA transcripts) and a high dose MeHg (61 proteins/876 RNA transcripts). The majority but not all the differentially expressed features in hippocampus were dose dependent. The combined use of transcriptomic and proteomic profiling data provided insight on the influence of MeHg on neurotoxicity, energy metabolism, and oxidative stress through several regulated features and pathways, including RXR function and superoxide radical degradation.

Keywords: RNA sequencing; hippocampus; methylmercury; mice; proteomic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Methylmercury Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Proteome / drug effects*
  • Transcriptome / drug effects*


  • Methylmercury Compounds
  • Proteome