Increased expression of TCF3, transcription factor 3, is a defense response against methylmercury toxicity in mouse neuronal C17.2 cells

Takashi Toyama, Yanjiao Wang, Min Seok Kim, Tsutomu Takahashi, Akira Naganuma, Gi Wook Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Methylmercury is an environmental pollutant that induces potent neurotoxicity. We previously identified transcription factor 3 (TCF3) as a transcription factor that is activated in the brains of mice treated with methylmercury, and reported that methylmercury sensitivity was increased in cells in which TCF3 expression was suppressed. However, the mechanisms involved in the activation of TCF3 by methylmercury and in the reduction of methylmercury toxicity by TCF3 remained unclear. We found that treatment of mouse neuronal C17.2 cells with methylmercury increased TCF3 protein levels and promoted the binding of TCF3 to DNA consensus sequences. In cells treated with actinomycin D, a transcription inhibitor, an increase in TCF3 protein levels was also observed under methylmercury exposure. However, in the presence of cycloheximide, a translation inhibitor, methylmercury delayed the degradation of TCF3 protein. In addition, treatment with MG132, a proteasome inhibitor, increased TCF3 protein levels, and there was not significant increase in TCF3 protein levels by methylmercury under these conditions. These results suggest that methylmercury may activate TCF3 by increasing its levels through inhibition of TCF3 degradation by the proteasome. It has been previously reported that the induction of apoptosis in neurons is involved in methylmercury-induced neuronal damage in the brain. Although apoptosis was induced in C17.2 cells treated with methylmercury, this induction was largely suppressed by overexpression of TCF3. These results indicate that TCF3, which is increased in the brain upon exposure to methylmercury, may be a novel defense factor against methylmercury-induced neurotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-458
Number of pages8
JournalToxicological Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Methylmercury
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Transcription factor 3 (TCF3)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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