Environmental toxicology and chemistry

Transcriptional profiling in Saccharomyces cerevisiae relevant for predicting alachlor mechanisms of toxicity.

PMID 21842488


Alachlor has been a commonly applied herbicide and is a substance of ecotoxicological concern. The present study aims to identify molecular biomarkers in the eukaryotic model Saccharomyces cerevisiae that can be used to predict potential cytotoxic effects of alachlor, while providing new mechanistic clues with possible relevance for experimentally less accessible eukaryotes. It focuses on genome-wide expression profiling in a yeast population in response to two exposure scenarios exerting effects from slight to moderate magnitude at phenotypic level. In particular, 100 and 264 genes, respectively, were found as differentially expressed on a 2-h exposure of yeast cells to the lowest observed effect concentration (110 mg/L) and the 20% inhibitory concentration (200 mg/L) of alachlor, in comparison with cells not exposed to the herbicide. The datasets of alachlor-responsive genes showed functional enrichment in diverse metabolic, transmembrane transport, cell defense, and detoxification categories. In general, the modifications in transcript levels of selected candidate biomarkers, assessed by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, confirmed the microarray data and varied consistently with the growth inhibitory effects of alachlor. Approximately 16% of the proteins encoded by alachlor-differentially expressed genes were found to share significant homology with proteins from ecologically relevant eukaryotic species. The biological relevance of these results is discussed in relation to new insights into the potential adverse effects of alachlor in health of organisms from ecosystems, particularly in worst-case situations such as accidental spills or careless storage, usage, and disposal.

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