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Dartmouth College

Superfund Research Program

Arsenic and ABC Transporters

Project Leader: Bruce A. Stanton
Grant Number: P42ES007373
Funding Period: 2005-2020

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Project Summary (2005-2008)

The long-term objective of Dr. Stanton’s research is to elucidate how arsenic (As) affects xenobiotic bioavailability and increases the incidence of atherosclerotic disease, diabetes mellitus as well as several types of drug resistant cancers. This study focuses on elucidating the effects of environmentally relevant levels of As on the expression and function of two ABC (ATP Binding Cassette) transporters: the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and the multidrug resistance protein 2 (MRP2). CFTR is a C channel that plays an important role in salt homeostasis. MRP2 transports xenobiotics, including chemotherapeutic drugs, toxins, and arsenic glutathione conjugates out of cells and, thereby, plays a role in xenobiotic excretion in bile and urine, protects the brain from xenobiotic and toxic compounds and limits the intestinal absorption of drugs. These studies are designed to test the hypothesis that arsenic modulates hormonal regulation of ABC transporter gene expression and function. Specifically, the hypothesis is that As is an endocrine disrupter that blocks cortisol-glucorticoid receptor activation of CFTR gene expression and, thereby, interferes with salt homeostasis, and that As regulates xenobiotic excretion and bioavailability by regulating MRP2 gene expression in kidney, intestine and the blood brain barrier. To test the hypothesis three approaches are being followed:

  1. testing the hypothesis that As perturbs NaC homeostasis by inhibiting CFTR gene expression and function.
  2. testing the hypothesis that As modulates MRP2 gene expression and function, and thereby affects xenobiotic excretion and bioavailability.
  3. testing the hypothesis that As modulates the expression of novel genes that regulate MRP2 and CFTR.

To these ends a combination of biochemical, molecular, and live cell imaging approaches are being employed to study the effects of As on CFTR and MRP2 gene expression and function in kidney, intestine, operculum and blood brain barrier. These studies are highly interactive with Projects 2, 4 and 5, and utilize all of the Cores. These studies enhance our understanding of the cellular mechanisms whereby As regulates ATP transporter gene expression and function.

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