On April 1998 a tailing dam of the Aznalcollar pyrite mine partially collapsed and released to the Guadiamar river acidic water and mud containing toxic metals threatening the Doñ ana National Park, a Spanish wildlife reserve located near the estuary of Guadalquivir river. To assess the possible biological effects on terrestrial ecosystems, biochemical markers were assayed in the kidneys of Algerian mice (Mus spretus) collected in several areas of Doñ ana and Guadiamar river. Biomarkers assayed are proteins involved in cell cycle regulation, in particular cyclins and their associated kinases, and some cell cycle inhibitors. Moreover Mitogen Activated Protein Kinases (MAPK), a signal transduction system involved in cell division, p53, a protein involved in growth arrest after DNA damage, and HSP70, an early stressinduced protein, were assayed. The kidneys of animals collected one year after the ecological disaster had increased levels of PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen), indicating an increased number of cells in the S phase of cell cycle. This shift of cells from G0 to S phase is due to increased levels of cyclins D1, E, and A, to decreased levels of p21 and p27 cdk inhibitors, and to activation of MAPK cascade. On the other hand, p53 and HSP70 levels are not changed. These data demonstrate that the presence of toxic metals after ecological disaster provoked the induction of kidney cell proliferation interpretable as a compensatory cell growth after tissue damage and apoptosis, and that could lead to the genomic instability characteristic of cancer cell. # 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 23: 44-51, 2008
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