Transcriptomics reveal triphenyltin-induced molecular toxicity in the marine mussel Perna viridis

Jack Chi Ho IP, Priscilla T.Y. LEUNG, Jian Wen QIU, Paul K.S. LAM, Chris K.C. WONG, Leo L. CHAN, Kenneth M.Y. LEUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Triphenyltin (TPT) is widely used as an active ingredient in antifouling paints and fungicides, and continuous release of this highly toxic endocrine disruptor has caused serious pollution to coastal marine ecosystems and organisms worldwide. Using bioassays and transcriptome sequencing, this study comprehensively investigated the molecular toxicity of TPT chloride (TPTCl) to the marine mussel Perna viridis which is a commercially important species and a common biomonitor for marine pollution in Southeast Asia. Our results indicated that TPTCl was highly toxic to adult P. viridis, with a 96-h LC10 and a 96-h EC10 at 18.7 μg/L and 2.7 μg/L, respectively. A 21-day chronic exposure to 2.7 μg/L TPTCl revealed a strong bioaccumulation of TPT in gills (up to 36.48 μg/g dry weight) and hepatopancreas (71.19 μg/g dry weight) of P. viridis. Transcriptome analysis indicated a time course dependent gene expression pattern in both gills and hepatopancreas. Higher numbers of differentially expressed genes were detected at Day 21 (gills: 1686 genes; hepatopancreas: 1450 genes) and at Day 28 (gills: 628 genes; hepatopancreas: 238 genes) when compared with that at Day 7 (gills: 104 genes, hepatopancreas: 112 genes). Exposure to TPT strongly impaired the endocrine system through targeting on nuclear receptors and putative steroid metabolic genes. Moreover, TPT widely disrupted cellular functions, including lipid metabolism, xenobiotic detoxification, immune response and endoplasmic-reticulum-associated degradation expression, which might have caused the bioaccumulation of TPT in the tissues and aggregation of peptides and proteins in cells that further activated the apoptosis process in P. viridis. Overall, this study has advanced our understanding on both ecotoxicity and molecular toxic mechanisms of TPT to marine mussels, and contributed empirical toxicity data for risk assessment and management of TPT contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148040
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date26 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was substantially supported by the Seed Collaborative Research Fund (2011) from the State Key Laboratory of Marine Pollution (City University of Hong Kong) which received funding support from the Innovation and Technology Commission of the Hong Kong SAR Government. The writing was partially supported by Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou) ( GML2019ZD0404 , GML2019ZD0409 ). The authors thank the Centre for Genomic Sciences of the University of Hong Kong for the service support in Illumina sequencing and bioinformatics analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • Detoxification
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Marine mussel
  • Nuclear receptors
  • Transcriptome
  • Triphenyltin


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