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Toxicology. 2008 Jan 14;243(1-2):177-92. Epub 2007 Oct 23.

D-Serine exposure resulted in gene expression changes indicative of activation of fibrogenic pathways and down-regulation of energy metabolism and oxidative stress response.

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Applied Biotechnology Branch, Division of Biosciences and Protection, Human Effectiveness Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Area B, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OH 45433-5707, USA.


Renal toxicity can commonly occur after exposure to xenobiotics, pharmaceutical agents or environmental pollutants. Changes in the gene expression in kidney parenchymal cells that precede and/or accompany renal injury may be hallmark critical events in the onset of pathologic changes of renal functions. Over the last several years, transcriptomic analysis has evolved to enable simultaneous analysis of the expression profiles of tens of thousands of genes in response to various endogenous and exogenous stimuli. In this study, we investigated gene expression changes in the kidney after acute exposure to a nephrotoxin, D-serine, which targets the proximal tubule of the kidney. Male F-344 rats injected intraperitoneally with a single dose of D-serine (5, 20, 50, 200 or 500 mg/kg), and gene expression profiles in the kidney were determined using the Affymetrix RAE230A gene arrays at 96 h post-dosing. D-serine treatment resulted in the up- and down-regulation of 1158 and 749 genes, respectively, over the entire dose range based on the intersection of the results of t-test, p<0.01 over two consecutive doses, and ANOVA with Bonferonni correction for multiple testing. Interestingly, both the up-and down-regulated genes show a unified dose response pattern as revealed in the self-organized map clustering analysis using the expression profiles of the 1907 differentially expressed genes as input data. There appears to be minimal changes in the expression level of these genes in the dose range of 5-50 mg/kg, while the most prominent changes were observed at the highest doses tested, i.e. 200 and 500 mg/kg. Pathway analysis of the differentially expressed genes showed perturbation of a large number of biological processes/pathways after d-serine exposure. Among the up-regulated pathways are actin cytoskeleton biogenesis and organization, apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, chromatin assembly, excision repair of damaged DNA, DNA replication and packaging, protein biosynthesis, metabolism and transport, inflammatory response, proteasome-mediated degradation of oxidatively damaged cytosolic proteins, Ras protein signal transduction, TGF-beta signaling pathway and mRNA transcription, processing, splicing and transport. On the other hand, major metabolic pathways, which include carbohydrate metabolism, TCA cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, ATP synthesis coupled electron transport, amino acid metabolism and transport, lipid metabolism, nucleotide metabolism, and vitamin metabolism, and oxidative stress response including induction of antioxidant genes and glutathione metabolism are down-regulated. As tubular epithelia have strong energy demand for normal functions, down-regulation of energy metabolism after D-serine treatment may be related to the mechanism of its nephrotoxicity. In addition, hydrogen peroxide, a reactive oxygen species, is produced as a byproduct of the metabolism of D-serine by D-amino acid oxidase in the peroxisomes of the tubular epithelia. Down-regulation of pathways for antioxidant genes induction and glutathione metabolism will likely exacerbate the cytotoxicity of this reactive oxygen species. The observation that the genes involved in apoptosis, DNA repair, proteasome pathway for the degradation of oxidatively damaged cytosolic proteins were up-regulated lends some supports to this premise. Up-regulation of pathways of cell proliferation cycle, DNA replication and gene expression process, including mRNA transcription, processing, splicing, transport, translation initiation, and protein transport along with protein complex assembly, suggests ongoing tissue repair and regeneration. Consistent with the fibrogenic function of the TGF-beta signaling pathway in various experimental renal diseases, genes encoding major extracellular matrix components such as collagens, laminins, fibronectin 1 and tenascins are also strongly up-regulated. Taken together, the results of this study provide important insights into the molecular mechanism of D-serine nephrotoxicity, as well as the activation of specific cellular pathways in response to this toxic insult.

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