Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 1, pp 117–124 | Cite as

Imposex in marine gastropods may be caused by binding of organotins to retinoid X receptor

  • Jun-ichi NishikawaEmail author
Research Article


Organotin compounds have been widely used as antifouling paints for ships and fishing nets since the 1960s and have thus been released into marine environments. Aquatic invertebrates, particularly marine gastropods, are extremely sensitive to organotin compounds such as tributyltin (TBT) and triphenyltin (TPT) and undergo changes in sexual identity in response to exposure. This worldwide phenomenon is one of the worst consequences of pollution by man-made chemicals and has led to the ban of such compounds in antifouling paints in a number of countries, although organotin compounds still exist in the environment. So far, very low-concentrations of TBT or TPT have been shown to induce imposex (superimposition of male genitalia on female) in marine gastropods. Although the imposex induction mechanism has been controversial for many years, it was recently reported that TBT and TPT are potent and efficacious activators of retinoid X receptor (RXR), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. In this review, I discuss the involvement of RXR in the development of gastropod imposex.


Androgen Receptor Nuclear Receptor Organotin Compound Antifouling Paint Nuclear Receptor Superfamily 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Environmental Biochemistry, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical SciencesOsaka UniversityOsakaJapan

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