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Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Apr;115(4):572-8. Epub 2007 Jan 17.

Identification of genes implicated in methapyrilene-induced hepatotoxicity by comparing differential gene expression in target and nontarget tissue.

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  • 1National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.



Toxicogenomics experiments often reveal thousands of transcript alterations that are related to multiple processes, making it difficult to identify key gene changes that are related to the toxicity of interest.


The objective of this study was to compare gene expression changes in a nontarget tissue to the target tissue for toxicity to help identify toxicity-related genes.


Male rats were given the hepatotoxicant methapyrilene at two dose levels, with livers and kidneys removed 24 hr after one, three, and seven doses for gene expression analysis. To identify gene changes likely to be related to toxicity, we analyzed genes on the basis of their temporal pattern of change using a program developed at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, termed "EPIG" (extracting gene expression patterns and identifying co-expressed genes).


High-dose methapyrilene elicited hepatic damage that increased in severity with the number of doses, whereas no treatment-related lesions were observed in the kidney. High-dose methapyrilene elicited thousands of gene changes in the liver at each time point, whereas many fewer gene changes were observed in the kidney. EPIG analysis identified patterns of gene expression correlated to the observed toxicity, including genes associated with endoplasmic reticulum stress and the unfolded protein response.


By factoring in dose level, number of doses, and tissue into the analysis of gene expression elicited by methapyrilene, we were able to identify genes likely to not be implicated in toxicity, thereby allowing us to focus on a subset of genes to identify toxicity-related processes.

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