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Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Apr;114 Suppl 1:101-5.

Application of ecotoxicogenomics for studying endocrine disruption in vertebrates and invertebrates.

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  • 1Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience, National Institute for Basic Biology, National Institutes of Natural Sciences, Myodaiji, Okazaki, Japan. taisen@nibb.ac.jp


Chemicals released into the environment potentially disrupt the endocrine system in wild animals and humans. Developing organisms are particularly sensitive to estrogenic chemicals. Exposure to estrogens or estrogenic chemicals during critical periods of development induces persistent changes in both reproductive and nonreproductive organs, including persistent molecular alterations. Estrogen-responsive genes and critical developmental windows of various animal species, therefore, need to be identified for investigators to understand the molecular basis of estrogenic activity during embryonic development. For investigators to understand molecular mechanisms of toxicity in various species, toxicogenomics/ecotoxicogenomics, defined as the integration of genomics (transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics) into toxicology and ecotoxicology, need to be established as powerful tools for research. As the initial step toward using genomics to examine endocrine-disrupting chemicals, estrogen receptors and other steroid hormone receptors have been cloned in various species, including reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and alterations in the expression of these genes in response to chemicals were investigated. We are identifying estrogen-responsive genes in mouse reproductive tracts using cDNA microarrays and trying to establish microarray systems in the American alligator, roach, medaka, and water fleas (Daphnia magna). It is too early to define common estrogen-responsive genes in various animal species; however, toxicogenomics and ectotoxicogenomics provide powerful tools to help us understand the molecular mechanism of chemical toxicities in various animal species.

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