2002 Volume 40 Issue 2 Pages 159-166
Cadmium (Cd) is a hazardous heavy metal present in working and living environments. Cd affects many cellular functions, but little is known about the mechanisms of its toxicity and cellular defense against it. Recently, advanced gene expression analysis employing DNA microarrays provided us the means to profile the expression of thousands of genes simultaneously. We describe here a study of Cd-induced gene expression profile. Messenger RNA was prepared from HeLa cells exposed to a non-lethal dose of CdSO4, and analyzed by the use of an array consisting of 7, 075 human cDNAs. Many stress response genes including those coding for metallothioneins and heat shock proteins were observed to be induced by Cd. The cellular metabolism inclined toward the synthesis of cysteine and glutathione after Cd exposure. Anti-oxidant genes also appeared to be induced to protect cell components and to quench reactive oxygen species. Ubiquitin pathway was activated as well probably to degrade proteins which might not be renatured. These data suggest that human cells mobilize every genomic resource (induction of some genes and repression of others) to overcome cytotoxicity caused by Cd.