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  • Villaseñor-Altamirano, Ana B.; Watson, John D.; Prokopec, Stephenie D.; Yao, Cindy Q.; Boutros, Paul C.; Pohjanvirta, Raimo; Valdés-Flores, Jesús; Elizondo, Guillermo (2019)
    Alternative splicing is a co-transcriptional mechanism that generates protein diversity by including or excluding exons in different combinations, thereby expanding the diversity of protein isoforms of a single gene. Abnormalities in this process can result in deleterious effects to human health, and several xenobiotics are known to interfere with splicing regulation through multiple mechanisms. These changes could lead to human diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases, and developmental disorders. 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is an environmental contaminant generated as a byproduct of various industrial activities. Exposure to this dioxin has been linked to a wide range of pathologies through the alteration of multiple cellular processes. However, the effects of TCDD exposure on alternative splicing have not yet been studied. Here, we investigated whether a single po. dose of 5 μg/kg or 500 μg/kg TCDD influence hepatic alternative splicing in adult male C57BL/6Kou mouse. We identified several genes whose alternative splicing of precursor messenger RNAs was modified following TCDD exposure. In particular, we demonstrated that alternative splicing of Cyp1a1, Ahrr, and Actn1 was significantly altered after TCDD treatment. These findings show that the exposure to TCDD has an impact on alternative-splicing, and suggest a new avenue for understanding TCDD-mediated toxicity and pathogenesis.
  • Kibble, Milla; Khan, Suleiman A.; Ammad-ud-din, Muhammad; Bollepalli, Sailalitha; Palviainen, Teemu; Kaprio, Jaakko; Pietiläinen, Kirsi H.; Ollikainen, Miina (2020)
    We combined clinical, cytokine, genomic, methylation and dietary data from 43 young adult monozygotic twin pairs (aged 22-36 years, 53% female), where 25 of the twin pairs were substantially weight discordant (delta body mass index > 3 kg m(-2)). These measurements were originally taken as part of the TwinFat study, a substudy of The Finnish Twin Cohort study. These five large multivariate datasets (comprising 42, 71, 1587, 1605 and 63 variables, respectively) were jointly analysed using an integrative machine learning method called group factor analysis (GFA) to offer new hypotheses into the multi-molecular-level interactions associated with the development of obesity. New potential links between cytokines and weight gain are identified, as well as associations between dietary, inflammatory and epigenetic factors. This encouraging case study aims to enthuse the research community to boldly attempt new machine learning approaches which have the potential to yield novel and unintuitive hypotheses. The source code of the GFA method is publically available as the R package GFA.
  • Prokopec, Stephenie D.; Lu, Aileen; Lee, Sandy Che-Eun S.; Yao, Cindy Q.; Sun, Ren X.; Watson, John D.; Soliymani, Rabah; de Borja, Richard; Wong, Ada; Sam, Michelle; Zuzarte, Philip; McPherson, John D.; Okey, Allan B.; Pohjanvirta, Raimo; Boutros, Paul C. (2019)
    The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) mediates many toxic effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). However, the AHR alone does not explain the widely different outcomes among organisms. To identify the other factors involved, we evaluated three transgenic mouse lines, each expressing a different rat AHR isoform (rWT, DEL, and INS) providing widely different resistance to TCDD toxicity, as well as C57BL/6 and DBA/2 mice which exhibit a similar to tenfold divergence in TCDD sensitivity (exposures of 5-1000 mu g/kg TCDD). We supplement these with whole-genome sequencing, together with transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of the corresponding rat models, Long-Evans (L-E) and Han/Wistar (H/W) rats (having a similar to 1000-fold difference in their TCDD sensitivities; 100 mu g/kg TCDD), to identify genes associated with TCDD-response phenotypes. Overall, we identified up to 50% of genes with altered mRNA abundance following TCDD exposure are associated with a single AHR isoform (33.8%, 11.7%, 5.2% and 0.3% of 3076 genes altered unique to rWT, DEL, C57BL/6 and INS respectively following 1000 mu g/kg TCDD). Hepatic Pxdc1 was significantly repressed in all three TCDD-sensitive animal models (C57BL/6 and rWT mice, and L-E rat) after TCDD exposure. Three genes, including Cxxc5, Sugp1 and Hgfac, demonstrated different AHRE-1 (full) motif occurrences within their promoter regions between rat strains, as well as different patterns of mRNA abundance. Several hepatic proteins showed parallel up- or downward alterations with their RNAs, with three genes (SNRK, IGTP and IMPA2) showing consistent, strain-dependent changes. These data show the value of integrating genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic evidence across multi-species models in toxicologic studies.
  • Atashgahi, Siavash; Shetty, Sudarshan A.; Smidt, Hauke; de Vos, Willem M. (2018)
    Humans and their associated microbiomes are exposed to numerous xenobiotics through drugs, dietary components, personal care products as well as environmental chemicals. Most of the reciprocal interactions between the microbiota and xenobiotics, such as halogenated compounds, occur within the human gut harboring diverse and dense microbial communities. Here, we provide an overview of the flux of halogenated compounds in the environment, and diverse exposure routes of human microbiota to these compounds. Subsequently, we review the impact of halogenated compounds in perturbing the structure and function of gut microbiota and host cells. In turn, cultivation-dependent and metagenomic surveys of dehalogenating genes revealed the potential of the gut microbiota to chemically alter halogenated xenobiotics and impact their fate. Finally, we provide an outlook for future research to draw attention and attract interest to study the bidirectional impact of halogenated and other xenobiotic compounds and the gut microbiota.
  • Singh, Pooja; Ahi, Ehsan Pashay; Sturmbauer, Christian (2021)
    Background The oral and pharyngeal jaw of cichlid fishes are a classic example of evolutionary modularity as their functional decoupling boosted trophic diversification and contributed to the success of cichlid adaptive radiations. Most studies until now have focused on the functional, morphological, or genetic aspects of cichlid jaw modularity. Here we extend this concept to include transcriptional modularity by sequencing whole transcriptomes of the two jaws and comparing their gene coexpression networks. Results We show that transcriptional decoupling of gene expression underlies the functional decoupling of cichlid oral and pharyngeal jaw apparatus and the two units are evolving independently in recently diverged cichlid species from Lake Tanganyika. Oral and pharyngeal jaw coexpression networks reflect the common origin of the jaw regulatory program as there is high preservation of gene coexpression modules between the two sets of jaws. However, there is substantial rewiring of genetic architecture within those modules. We define a global jaw coexpression network and highlight jaw-specific and species-specific modules within it. Furthermore, we annotate a comprehensive in silico gene regulatory network linking the Wnt and AHR signalling pathways to jaw morphogenesis and response to environmental cues, respectively. Components of these pathways are significantly differentially expressed between the oral and pharyngeal jaw apparatus. Conclusion This study describes the concerted expression of many genes in cichlid oral and pharyngeal jaw apparatus at the onset of the independent life of cichlid fishes. Our findings suggest that - on the basis of an ancestral gill arch network-transcriptional rewiring may have driven the modular evolution of the oral and pharyngeal jaws, highlighting the evolutionary significance of gene network reuse. The gene coexpression and in silico regulatory networks presented here are intended as resource for future studies on the genetics of vertebrate jaw morphogenesis and trophic adaptation.
  • Mahiout, Selma; Tagliabue, Sara Giani; Nasri, Atefeh; Omoruyi, Iyekhoetin Matthew; Pettersson, Lars; Bonati, Laura; Pohjanvirta, Raimo (2018)
    The mediator of dioxin toxicity, aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), has also important physiological functions. Selective AHR modulators (SAHRMs) share some effects of dioxins, except for their marked toxicity. We recently characterised toxicologically two novel SAHRMs, prodrugs IMA-08401 and IMA-07101 in rats, demonstrating that they are far less deleterious than the most toxic AHR-agonist, TCDD. Here, we analysed the in vitro toxicity and in silico AHR binding of the respective active, deacetylated metabolites, IMA-06201 (N-ethyl-N-phenyl-5-chloro-1,2-dihydro-4-hydroxy-1-methyl-2-oxo-quinoline-3-carboxamide) and IMA-06504 (N-(4-trifluoromethylphenyl)-1,2-dihydro-4-hydroxy-5-methoxy-1-methyl-2-oxo-quinoline-3-carboxamide). In H4IIE rat hepatoma cells, IMA-06201 and IMA-06504 induced CYP1A1 with comparable potencies and efficacies to those of TCDD. They had little effect on cell viability as assessed by LDH leakage and MTT reduction assays, and were not mutagenic in the Ames test, but IMA-06504 elicited a maximally 2.7-fold increase in micronuclei. Molecular docking simulations showed that similar to TCDD, they occupy the central region of AHR ligand binding cavity. Hence, while showing low to negligible in vitro toxicity, these novel SAHRMs bind to the AHR qualitatively in a similar fashion to TCDD, and appear comparably powerful AHR agonists. Combined with our earlier results demonstrating that they seem considerably less toxic in vivo than TCDD, these compounds are thus highly interesting new SAHRMs.
  • Lee, Jamie; Prokopec, Stephenie D.; Watson, John D.; Sun, Ren X.; Pohjanvirta, Raimo; Boutros, Paul C. (2015)
    Background: 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dixion (TCDD) is the most potent of the dioxin congeners, capable of causing a wide range of toxic effects across numerous animal models. Previous studies have demonstrated that males and females of the same species can display divergent sensitivity phenotypes to TCDD toxicities. Although it is now clear that most TCDD-induced toxic outcomes are mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), the mechanism of differential responses to TCDD exposure between sexes remains largely unknown. To investigate the differential sensitivities in male and female mice, we profiled the hepatic transcriptomic responses 4 days following exposure to various amounts of TCDD (125, 250, 500 or 1000 mu g/kg) in adult male and female C57BL/6Kuo mice. Results: Several key findings were revealed by our study. 1) Hepatic transcriptomes varied significantly between the sexes at all doses examined. 2) The liver transcriptome of males was more dysregulated by TCDD than that of females. 3) The alteration of " AHR-core" genes was consistent in magnitude, regardless of sex. 4) A subset of genes demonstrated sex-dependent TCDD-induced transcriptional changes, including Fmo3 and Nr1i3, which were significantly induced in livers of male mice only. In addition, a meta-analysis was performed to contrast transcriptomic profiles of various organisms and tissues following exposure to equitoxic doses of TCDD. Minimal overlap was observed in the differences between TCDD-sensitive or TCDD-resistant models. Conclusions: Sex-dependent sensitivities to TCDD exposure are associated with a set of sex-specific TCDD-responsive genes. In addition, complex interactions between the aryl hydrocarbon and sex hormone receptors may affect the observable differences in sensitivity phenotypes between the sexes. Further work is necessary to better understand the roles of those genes altered by TCDD in a sex-dependent manner, and their association with changes to sex hormones and receptors.
  • Sidorova, Yulia A.; Perepechaeva, Maria L.; Pivovarova, Elena N.; Markel, Arkady L.; Lyakhovich, Vyacheslav V.; Grishanova, Alevtina Y. (2016)
    Oxidative reactions that are catalyzed by cytochromes P450 1A (CYP1A) lead to formation of carcinogenic derivatives of arylamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as the widespread environmental pollutant benzo(a) pyrene (BP). These compounds upregulate CYP1A at the transcriptional level via an arylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-dependent signaling pathway. Because of the involvement of AhR-dependent genes in chemically induced carcinogenesis, suppression of this signaling pathway could prevent tumor formation and/or progression. Here we show that menadione (a water-soluble analog of vitamin K-3) inhibits BP-induced expression and enzymatic activity of both CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 in vivo (in the rat liver) and BP-induced activity of CYP1A1 in vitro. Coadministration of BP and menadione reduced DNA-binding activity of AhR and increased DNA-binding activity of transcription factors Oct-1 and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP), which are known to be involved in negative regulation of AhR-dependent genes, in vivo. Expression of another factor involved in downregulation of CYP1A-pAhR repressor (AhRR)-was lower in the liver of the rats treated with BP and menadione, indicating that the inhibitory effect of menadione on CYP1A is not mediated by this protein. Furthermore, menadione was well tolerated by the animals: no signs of acute toxicity were detected by visual examination or by assessment of weight gain dynamics or liver function. Taken together, our results suggest that menadione can be used in further studies on animal models of chemically induced carcinogenesis because menadione may suppress tumor formation and possibly progression.
  • Boutros, Paul C; Moffat, Ivy D; Okey, Allan B; Pohjanvirta, Raimo (2011)
  • Viluksela, Matti; Pohjanvirta, Raimo (2019)
    Dioxins are ubiquitous and persistent environmental contaminants whose background levels are still reason for concern. There is mounting evidence from both epidemiological and experimental studies that paternal exposure to the most potent congener of dioxins, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), can lower the male/female ratio of offspring. Moreover, in laboratory rodents and zebrafish, TCDD exposure of parent animals has been reported to result in reduced reproductive performance along with other adverse effects in subsequent generations, foremost through the paternal but also via the maternal germline. These impacts have been accompanied by epigenetic alterations in placenta and/or sperm cells, including changes in methylation patterns of imprinted genes. Here, we review recent key studies in this field with an attempt to provide an up-to-date picture of the present state of knowledge to the reader. These studies provide biological plausibility for the potential of dioxin exposure at a critical time-window to induce epigenetic alterations across multiple generations and the significance of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) in mediating these effects. Currently available data do not allow to accurately estimate the human health implications of these findings, although epidemiological evidence on lowered male/female ratio suggests that this effect may take place at realistic human exposure levels.
  • EFSA Panel Contaminants Food Chain; Knutsen, Helle; Alexander, Jan; Barregård, Lars; Bignami,; Bruschweiler,; Ceccatelli,; Cottrill,; Dinovi,; Edler,; Grasl-Kraupp,; Hogstrand,; Nebbia,; Oswald,; Petersen,; Rose,; Roudot,; Schwerdtle,; Vleminckx,; Vollmer,; Wallace,; Furst,; Håkansson, Helen; Halldorsson,; Lundebye,; Pohjanvirta, Raimo Kalevi; Rylander,; Smith,; van Loveren,; Waalkens-Berendsen,; Zeilmaker,; Binaglia,; Gomez Ruiz,; Horvath,; Christoph,; Ciccolallo,; Ramos Bordajandi,; Steinkellner,; Hoogenboom, Ron (2018)
    The European Commission asked EFSA for a scientific opinion on the risks for animal and human health related to the presence of dioxins (PCDD/Fs) and DL-PCBs in feed and food. The data from experimental animal and epidemiological studies were reviewed and it was decided to base the human risk assessment on effects observed in humans and to use animal data as supportive evidence. The critical effect was on semen quality, following pre- and postnatal exposure. The critical study showed a NOAEL of 7.0 pg WHO2005-TEQ/g fat in blood sampled at age 9 years based on PCDD/F-TEQs. No association was observed when including DL-PCB-TEQs. Using toxicokinetic modelling and taking into account the exposure from breastfeeding and a twofold higher intake during childhood, it was estimated that daily exposure in adolescents and adults should be below 0.25 pg TEQ/kg bw/day. The CONTAM Panel established a TWI of 2 pg TEQ/kg bw/week. With occurrence and consumption data from European countries, the mean and P95 intake of total TEQ by Adolescents, Adults, Elderly and Very Elderly varied between, respectively, 2.1 to 10.5, and 5.3 to 30.4 pg TEQ/kg bw/week, implying a considerable exceedance of the TWI. Toddlers and Other Children showed a higher exposure than older age groups, but this was accounted for when deriving the TWI. Exposure to PCDD/F-TEQ only was on average 2.4- and 2.7-fold lower for mean and P95 exposure than for total TEQ. PCDD/Fs and DL-PCBs are transferred to milk and eggs, and accumulate in fatty tissues and liver. Transfer rates and bioconcentration factors were identified for various species. The CONTAM Panel was not able to identify reference values in most farm and companion animals with the exception of NOAELs for mink, chicken and some fish species. The estimated exposure from feed for these species does not imply a risk.
  • Prokopec, Stephenie D.; Watson, John D.; Lee, Jamie; Pohjanvirta, Raimo; Boutros, Paul C. (2015)
    2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is an environmental contaminant that produces myriad toxicities in most mammals. In rodents alone, there is a huge divergence in the toxicological response across species, as well as among different strains within a species. But there are also significant differences between males and females animals of a single strain. These differences are inconsistent across model systems: the severity of toxicity is greater in female rats than males, while male mice and guinea pigs are more sensitive than females. Because the specific events that underlie this difference remain unclear, we characterized the hepatic transcriptional response of adult male and female C57BL/6 mice to 500 mu g/kg TCDD at multiple time-points. The transcriptional profile diverged significantly between the sexes. Female mice demonstrated a large number of altered transcripts as early as 6 h following treatment, suggesting a large primary response. Conversely, male animals showed the greatest TCDD-mediated response 144 h following exposure, potentially implicating significant secondary responses. Nr1i3 was statistically significantly induced at all time-points in the sensitive male animals. This mRNA encodes the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR), a transcription factor involved in the regulation of xenobiotic metabolism, lipid metabolism, cell cycle and apoptosis. Surprisingly though, changes at the protein level (aside from the positive control, CYP1A1) were modest, with only FMO3 showing clear induction, and no genes with sex-differences. Thus, while male and female mice show transcriptional differences in their response to TCDD, their association with TCDD-induced toxicities remains unclear. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.
  • Watson, John D.; Prokopec, Stephenie D.; Smith, Ashley B.; Okey, Allan B.; Pohjanvirta, Raimo; Boutros, Paul C. (2014)
  • Viluksela, Matti; Heikkinen, Paivi; van der Ven, Leo T. M.; Rendel, Filip; Roos, Robert; Esteban, Javier; Korkalainen, Merja; Lensu, Sanna; Miettinen, Hanna M.; Savolainen, Kari; Sankari, Satu; Lilienthal, Hellmuth; Adamsson, Annika; Toppari, Jorma; Herlin, Maria; Finnila, Mikko; Tuukkanen, Juha; Leslie, Heather A.; Hamers, Timo; Hamscher, Gerd; Al-Anati, Lauy; Stenius, Ulla; Dervola, Kine-Susann; Bogen, Inger-Lise; Fonnum, Frode; Andersson, Patrik L.; Schrenk, Dieter; Halldin, Krister; Hakansson, Helen (2014)
  • Houlahan, Kathleen E.; Prokopec, Stephenie D.; Moffat, Ivy D.; Lindén, Jere; Lensu, Sanna; Okey, Allan B.; Pohjanvirta, Raimo; Boutros, Paul C. (2015)
    In some mammals, halogenated aromatic hydrocarbon (HAH) exposure causes wasting syndrome, defined as significant weight loss associated with lethal outcomes. The most potent HAH in causing wasting is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-rho-dioxin (TCDD), which exerts its toxic effects through the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). Since TCDD toxicity is thought to predominantly arise from dysregulation of AHR-transcribed genes, it was hypothesized that wasting syndrome is a result of to TCDD-induced dysregulation of genes involved in regulation of food-intake. As the hypothalamus is the central nervous systems' regulatory center for food-intake and energy balance. Therefore, mRNA abundances in hypothalamic tissue from two rat strains with widely differing sensitivities to TCDD-induced wasting syndrome: TCDD-sensitive Long-Evans rats and TCDD-resistant Han/Wistar rats, 23 h after exposure to TCDD (100 mu g/kg) or corn oil vehicle. TCDD exposure caused minimal transcriptional dysregulation in the hypothalamus, with only 6 genes significantly altered in Long-Evans rats and 15 genes in Han/Wistar rats. Two of the most dysregulated genes were Cyp1a1 and Nqo1, which are induced by TCDD across a wide range of tissues and are considered sensitive markers of TCDD exposure. The minimal response of the hypothalamic transcriptome to a lethal dose of TCDD at an early time-point suggests that the hypothalamus is not the predominant site of initial events leading to hypophagia and associated wasting. TCDD may affect feeding behaviour via events upstream or downstream of the hypothalamus, and further work is required to evaluate this at the level of individual hypothalamic nuclei and subregions. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
  • Houlahan, Kathleen E.; Prokopec, Stephenie D.; Sun, Ren X.; Moffat, Ivy D.; Lindén, Jere; Lensu, Sanna; Okey, Allan B.; Pohjanvirta, Raimo; Boutros, Paul C. (2015)
    Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins are environmental contaminants commonly produced as a by-product of industrial processes. The most potent of these, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-rho-dioxin (TCDD), is highly lipophilic, leading to bioaccumulation. White adipose tissue (WAT) is a major site for energy storage, and is one of the organs in which TCDD accumulates. In laboratory animals, exposure to TCDD causes numerous metabolic abnormalities, including a wasting syndrome. We therefore investigated the molecular effects of TCDD exposure on WAT by profiling the transcriptomic response of WAT to 100 mu g/kg of TCDD at 1 or 4 days in TCDD-sensitive Long-Evans (Turku/AB; L-E) rats. A comparative analysis was conducted simultaneously in identically treated TCDD-resistant Han/Wistar (Kuopio; H/W) rats one day after exposure to the same dose. We sought to identify transcriptomic changes coinciding with the onset of toxicity, while gaining additional insight into later responses. More transcriptional responses to TCDD were observed at 4 days than at I day post-exposure, suggesting WAT shows mostly secondary responses. Two classic AHR-regulated genes, Cyp1a1 and Nqo1, were significantly induced by TCDD in both strains, while several genes involved in the immune response, including Ms4a7 and Fl1a1 were altered in L-E rats alone. We compared genes affected by TCDD in rat WAT and human adipose cells, and observed little overlap. Interestingly, very few genes involved in lipid metabolism exhibited altered expression levels despite the pronounced lipid mobilization from peripheral fat pads by TCDD in L-E rats. Of these genes, the lipolysis-associated Lpin1 was induced slightly over 2-fold in L-E rat WAT on day 4. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license.
  • Prokopec, Stephenie D.; Viluksela, Matti; Miettinen, Hanna M.; Boutros, Paul C.; Pohjanvirta, Raimo (2020)
    In rats, direct exposure to TCDD causes myriad toxicities. Exposed rats experience hepatotoxicity, wasting syndrome and immune suppression, amongst others. "Inherited exposure", as occurs in the F3 generation of directly exposed F0 animals, has also been shown to cause toxicity: both male and female F3 rats demonstrate an increased incidence of adult onset disease, females also display reproductive abnormalities and increased incidence of ovarian diseases while males show increased incidence of kidney disease and an altered sperm epigenome. Here, we explore the hepatic transcriptomic profile of male and female F3 Sprague-Dawley rats bred through the paternal germ line from F0 dams exposed to a single dose of TCDD (0, 30, 100, 300 or 1000 ng/kg body weight) by oral gavage. We hypothesize that RNA transcripts with altered abundance in livers of unexposed F3 progeny of treated F0 Sprague-Dawley rats may result from epigenetic modifications to the genome. We further survey patterns of differential methylation within male F3 rat testis. Female F3 rats demonstrated more TCDD-mediated hepatic transcriptomic changes than males, with differences primarily in the lowest dose group. In testis from male F3 rats, multiple olfactory receptors displayed patterns of differential methylation. Hypermethylation of Egfr and Mc5r among testes from TCDD lineage rats was observed, but without corresponding changes in hepatic mRNA abundance. Further studies examining these differences in other tissue types are warranted.