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Front Genet. 2014 May 5;5:110. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2014.00110. eCollection 2014.

Functional toxicology: tools to advance the future of toxicity testing.

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1
Department of Nutritional Science and Toxicology, University of California Berkeley Berkeley, CA, USA.

Abstract

The increased presence of chemical contaminants in the environment is an undeniable concern to human health and ecosystems. Historically, by relying heavily upon costly and laborious animal-based toxicity assays, the field of toxicology has often neglected examinations of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of toxicity for the majority of compounds-information that, if available, would strengthen risk assessment analyses. Functional toxicology, where cells or organisms with gene deletions or depleted proteins are used to assess genetic requirements for chemical tolerance, can advance the field of toxicity testing by contributing data regarding chemical mechanisms of toxicity. Functional toxicology can be accomplished using available genetic tools in yeasts, other fungi and bacteria, and eukaryotes of increased complexity, including zebrafish, fruit flies, rodents, and human cell lines. Underscored is the value of using less complex systems such as yeasts to direct further studies in more complex systems such as human cell lines. Functional techniques can yield (1) novel insights into chemical toxicity; (2) pathways and mechanisms deserving of further study; and (3) candidate human toxicant susceptibility or resistance genes.

KEYWORDS:

functional genomics; functional profiling; functional toxicology; toxicity testing; toxicology; yeast

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