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Aquat Toxicol. 2010 Jul 15;98(4):344-53. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2010.03.007. Epub 2010 Mar 16.

Environmentally relevant exposure to 17alpha-ethinylestradiol affects the telencephalic proteome of male fathead minnows.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Sciences and Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


Estrogens are key mediators of neuronal processes in vertebrates. As such, xenoestrogens present in the environment have the potential to alter normal central nervous system (CNS) function. The objectives of the present study were (1) to identify proteins with altered abundance in the male fathead minnow telencephalon as a result of low-level exposure to 17alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE(2)), and (2) to better understand the underlying mechanisms of 17beta-estradiol (E(2)) feedback in this important neuroendocrine tissue. Male fathead minnows exposed to a measured concentration of 5.4 ng EE(2)/L for 48 h showed decreased plasma E(2) levels of approximately 2-fold. Of 77 proteins that were quantified statistically, 14 proteins were down-regulated after EE(2) exposure, including four histone proteins, ATP synthase, H+ transporting subunits, and metabolic proteins (lactate dehydrogenase B4, malate dehydrogenase 1b). Twelve proteins were significantly induced by EE(2) including microtubule-associated protein tau (Mapt), astrocytic phosphoprotein, ependymin precursor, and calmodulin. Mapt showed an increase in protein abundance but a decrease in mRNA expression after EE(2) exposure(,) suggesting there may be a negative feedback response in the telencephalon to decreased mRNA transcription with increasing Mapt protein abundance. These results demonstrate that a low, environmentally relevant exposure to EE(2) can rapidly alter the abundance of proteins involved in cell differentiation and proliferation, neuron network morphology, and long-term synaptic potentiation. Together, these findings provide a better understanding of the molecular responses underlying E(2) feedback in the brain and demonstrate that quantitative proteomics can be successfully used in ecotoxicology to characterize affected cellular pathways and endocrine physiology.

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