, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 124–138 | Cite as

Induction of expression of a 14-3-3 gene in response to copper exposure in the marine alga, Fucus vesiculosus

  • Jennifer R. Owen
  • Ceri A. Morris
  • Beate Nicolaus
  • John L. Harwood
  • Peter Kille


The macro-alga Fucus vesiculosus has a broad global and estuarine distribution and exhibits exceptional resistance to toxic metals, the molecular basis of which is poorly understood. To address this issue a cDNA library was constructed from an environmental isolate of F. vesiculosus growing in an area with chronic copper pollution. Characterisation of this library led to the identification of a cDNA encoding a protein known to be synthesised in response to toxicity, a full length 14-3-3 exhibiting a 71% identity to human/mouse epsilon isoform, 70–71% identity to yeast BMH1/2 and 95 and 71% identity to the Ectocarpus siliculosus 14-3-3 isoforms 1 and 2 respectively. Preliminary characterisation of the expression profile of the 14-3-3 indicated concentration- and time-dependent inductions on acute exposure of F. vesiculosus of copper (3–30 μg/l). Higher concentrations of copper (≥150 μg/l) did not elicit significant induction of the 14-3-3 gene compared with the control even though levels of both intracellular copper and the expression of a cytosolic metal chaperone, metallothionein, continued to rise. Analysis of gene expression within environmental isolates demonstrated up-regulation of the 14-3-3 gene associated with the known copper pollution gradient. Here we report for the first time, identification of a gene encoding a putative 14-3-3 protein in a multicellular alga and provide preliminary evidence to link the induction of this 14-3-3 gene to copper exposure in this alga. Interestingly, the threshold exposure profile may be associated with a decrease in the organism’s ability to control copper influx so that it perceives copper as a toxic response.


Phaeophyta Copper Toxicity 14-3-3 Gene expression 



We would like to thank Dr Martijs Jonker (Microarray Department and Integrative Bioinformatics Unit, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands) for his assistance in the statistical analysis of the data and Dr. Dennis Francis (Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University) for helpful discussions. This work was made possible by a number of different awards including an EERO Fellowship to Dr B. Nicolaus and two awards supported by the Natural and Environmental Research Council under the ROPA scheme (GR3/R9694) and a Ph.D studentship GT04/99/MS/301. The project supervision was facilitated by the NERC continued support for Dr Kille through the Advanced Fellowship program (GT5/94/ALS).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer R. Owen
    • 1
  • Ceri A. Morris
    • 1
  • Beate Nicolaus
    • 1
  • John L. Harwood
    • 1
  • Peter Kille
    • 1
  1. 1.School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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