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Aquat Toxicol. 2010 Jun 10;98(2):130-8. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2010.02.004. Epub 2010 Feb 6.

Benzo[a]pyrene effects on glycine N-methyltransferase mRNA expression and enzyme activity in Fundulus heteroclitus embryos.

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Department of Pharmacology and Environmental Toxicology Research Program, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, USA.


Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is a ubiquitous environmental polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminant that is both a carcinogen and a developmental toxicant. We hypothesize that some of BaP's developmental toxicity may be mediated by effects on glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT). GNMT is a mediator in the methionine and folate cycles, and the homotetrameric form enzymatically transfers a methyl group from S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) to glycine forming S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) and sarcosine. SAM homeostasis, as regulated by GNMT, is critically involved in regulation of DNA methylation, and altered GNMT expression is associated with liver pathologies. The homodimeric form of GNMT has been suggested as the 4S PAH-binding protein. To further study BaP-GNMT interactions, Fundulus heteroclitus embryos were exposed to waterborne BaP at 10 and 100mug/L and both GNMT mRNA expression and enzyme activity were determined. Whole mount in situ hybridization showed GNMT mRNA expression was increased by BaP in the liver region of 7, 10 and 14dpf F. heteroclitus embryos. In contrast to mRNA induction, in vivo BaP exposure decreased GNMT enzyme activity in 4, 10 and 14dpf embryos. However, in vitro incubations of adult F. heteroclitus liver cytosol with BaP did not cause decreased enzyme activity. In conclusion, BaP exposure altered GNMT expression, which may represent a new target pathway for BaP-mediated embryonic toxicities and DNA methylation changes.

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