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Toxicol Sci. 2007 Jan;95(1):240-8. Epub 2006 Oct 11.

TCDD-induced alterations in gene expression profiles of the developing mouse paw do not influence morphological differentiation of this potential target tissue.

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Department of Environmental Medicine, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


The aryl-hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-dependent transcription factor that mediates the toxicity of certain halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons including 2,3,7,8-tetra-chlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). These compounds are potent developmental toxicants that can alter gene expression and disrupt processes of proliferation and differentiation. It has not yet been determined which tissues during development are most sensitive to these compounds, nor which genes are directly associated with the toxicities. We developed a transgenic (TG) mouse model to delineate the temporal and spatial context of transcriptionally active AhR by utilizing a dioxin responsive element-linked LacZ reporter system. The present study focuses on the pattern of TCDD-induced transgene expression localized to the footpad and digits of the paws between gestational days (GD) 13 and 18. Paw morphology was evaluated at several developmental stages following TCDD exposure. Gene expression profiles acquired by microarray technology were evaluated in the paws of fetuses exposed at GD 14.5. The results showed that TCDD exposure in utero induced LacZ expression in the developing paws. This expression appeared to be localized to the mesenchymal cell layer. Gross morphological changes were not observed in the paws prior to or after birth following TCDD exposure in utero. However, significant alterations in gene expression profiles in the developing paws were observed at 24 h following TCDD exposure in utero. These results indicate that the developing paw is a target tissue of TCDD in terms of altered gene expression, further validating the use of this AhR responsive reporter gene TG mouse model in studying AhR ligand-mediated responsiveness. However, the linkage of these changes to detectable biological outcomes in the paw remains unclear.

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