Molecular mechanisms of action of nickel in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans
Meyer, Dean Vallen
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Caenorhabditis elegans is a bacterivorous nematode used as a model organism in biosciences research. Its characteristics make it suitable for toxicological investigations of environmental exposures. It has been used extensively to assess the effects of exposure to metals. Nickel is a ubiquitous metal present in the soil, air, and water, to which all living organisms are exposed daily. In this dissertation, the effects of nickel on C. elegans are examined, with particular emphasis on characterizing cellular detoxification pathways involved in counteracting the effects of high concentrations of nickel. Pathways studied included metallothioneins, divalent metal transporters, a heat shock protein, an ABC transporter, phytochelatin, and coelomocytes. In addition, this dissertation evaluated the differential toxicity of seven soluble nickel salts, and investigated whether nickel caused degeneration of cholinergic and dopaminergic pathways in C. elegans.