Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser.

This website may not display properly with Internet Explorer. For the best experience, please use a more recent browser such as the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and/or Mozilla Firefox. Thank you.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Progress Reports: Boston University: Developmental Toxicity of non-Dioxin-like PCBs and Chemical Mixtures

Superfund Research Program

Developmental Toxicity of non-Dioxin-like PCBs and Chemical Mixtures

Project Leader: John J. Stegeman (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Co-Investigator: Jared V. Goldstone (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Grant Number: P42ES007381
Funding Period: 2000-2017
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

Learn More About the Grantee

Visit the grantee's eNewsletter page Visit the grantee's eNewsletter page Visit the grantee's Twitter page View the grantee's Factsheet(377KB)

Progress Reports

Year:   2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000 

The overall goal of this project is to determine how enzymes that metabolize pollutant chemicals, especially the cytochrome P450 enzymes, may be involved in toxicity of those chemicals during development. The studies use fish as models, as fish are known to be extremely sensitive to the developmental effects of some chemicals, and they are sentinels in aquatic systems. Dr. Stegeman's team uses zebrafish, a vertebrate model for development, and Fundulus heteroclitus, a marine fish model that is found at marine superfund sites and in which resistance to toxicity has evolved.

Several new target cytochrome P450 genes were cloned and their functions are being characterized. Novel CYP1 family genes, defining a new category (CYP1C) were identified in zebrafish and Fundulus as well as in other fish species. CYP1 genes are induced by dioxins and selected toxic planar PCBs and PAH, and CYP1 proteins may be involved in the toxicity of these inducers. Novel CYP2 family genes were also identified, by cloning from zebrafish. These new genes, designated CYP2AA, have been expressed in mammalian cell lines and functional characterization begun. These genes, which have eluded discovery in fish for decades, may be the counterparts of human P450 genes that are inducible by non-planar PCBs. This possibility is under study, and could provide new markers for chemical exposure in fish. Other genes newly cloned from Fundulus and/or zebrafish include a cytochrome P450 (termed CYP51) that may have a role in reproduction, and also a receptor (termed the PXR) that may regulate the expression of several P450 genes during development.

Planar PCBs could be toxic because they 'uncouple' the catalytic cycle of CYP1A, a process these investigators identified and further defined with SBRP support. Uncoupling results in about 120 moles of toxic reactive oxygen per mole of CYP1A before the enzyme is inactivated by that reactive oxygen. Together with the Bioinformatics Core, Dr. Stegeman is modeling the structure of fish CYP1As and examining the molecular features of chemicals that cause uncoupling to predict which chemicals could be toxic by this mechanism.

Chemical effects on gene expression were studied with zebrafish cDNA microarrays (developed in collaboration with Mark Fishman). This confirmed that CYP1A is the single most responsive gene in embryos exposed to TCDD. TCDD caused strong changes in expression of other known and unknown genes. In collaboration with H. Teraoka (Japan) it was found that in developing zebrafish, CYP1A expression in the vasculature is linked to changes in blood flow and to apoptosis in the developing brain (mesencephalon). This project is leading to new understanding of how some Superfund chemicals may cause defects during development, and providing information that may lead to new markers of exposure and effect.

to Top