OLI Grant: Development and Application of a Cnidarian Environmental Response Microarray for Toxicological, Developmental, and Ecological Studies


Grant Funded: 2006

The starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis is an estuarine cnidarian related to reef-building corals, and thus is important both as an evolutionary and an environmental model. We will create a targeted cDNA microarray representing all members of the cytochrome P450 (CYP), nuclear receptor, and heat shock protein superfamilies in N. vectensis, and will use the microarray to characterize the developmental and stress-induced expression of these genes. Nuclear receptors and CYPs are coupled in response to chemical stressors, as CYP enzymes catalyze the metabolism of diverse compounds ranging from toxic contaminants to steroid hormones, and CYP expression is primarily regulated by nuclear receptors. Determining the effects of stressors on the expression of cnidarian CYPs and nuclear receptors will provide important insight into the evolution of stress responses and may provide "early warning" biomarkers for exposure to specific stressors in both the sea anemone's native estuarine environment and in related scleractinian corals.