In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (16)

Articles by Nicola Beresford in JoVE

Other articles by Nicola Beresford on PubMed

COMPRENDO: Focus and Approach

Environmental Health Perspectives. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16818253

Tens of thousands of man-made chemicals are in regular use and discharged into the environment. Many of them are known to interfere with the hormonal systems in humans and wildlife. Given the complexity of endocrine systems, there are many ways in which endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can affect the body's signaling system, and this makes unraveling the mechanisms of action of these chemicals difficult. A major concern is that some of these EDCs appear to be biologically active at extremely low concentrations. There is growing evidence to indicate that the guiding principle of traditional toxicology that "the dose makes the poison" may not always be the case because some EDCs do not induce the classical dose-response relationships. The European Union project COMPRENDO (Comparative Research on Endocrine Disrupters--Phylogenetic Approach and Common Principles focussing on Androgenic/Antiandrogenic Compounds) therefore aims to develop an understanding of potential health problems posed by androgenic and antiandrogenic compounds (AACs) to wildlife and humans by focusing on the commonalities and differences in responses to AACs across the animal kingdom (from invertebrates to vertebrates) .

Characterization of an HMG-CoA Reductase from Listeria Monocytogenes That Exhibits Dual Coenzyme Specificity

Biochemistry. Dec, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 17128979

HMG-CoA reductase (HMGR) is an enzyme critical for cellular cholesterol synthesis in mammals and isoprenoid synthesis in certain eubacteria, catalyzing the NAD(P)H-dependent reduction of HMG-CoA to mevalonate. We have isolated the gene encoding HMG-CoA reductase from Listeria monocytogenes and expressed the recombinant 6x-His-tagged form in Escherichia coli. Using NAD(P)(H), the enzyme catalyzes HMG-CoA reduction approximately 200-fold more efficiently than mevalonate oxidation in vitro. The purified enzyme exhibits dual coenzyme specificity, utilizing both NAD(H) and NADP(H) in catalysis; however, catalytic efficiency using NADP(H) is approximately 200 times greater than when using NAD(H). The statins mevinolin and mevastatin are weak inhibitors of L. monocytogenes HMG-CoA reductase, requiring micromolar concentrations for inhibition. Three-dimensional modeling reveals that the overall structure of L. monocytogenes HMG-CoA reductase is likely similar to the known structure of the class II enzyme from Pseudomonas mevalonii. It appears that the enzyme has catalytic amino acids in analogous positions that likely play similar roles and also has a flap domain that brings a catalytic histidine into the active site. However, in L. monocytogenes HMG-CoA reductase histidine 143 and methionine 186 are present in the putative NAD(P)(H)-selective site, possibly interacting with the 2' phosphate of NADP(H) or 2' hydroxyl of NAD(H) and providing the active site architecture necessary for dual coenzyme specificity.

Novel Estrogen Receptor-related Transcripts in Marisa Cornuarietis; a Freshwater Snail with Reported Sensitivity to Estrogenic Chemicals

Environmental Science & Technology. Apr, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17438828

We have isolated novel molluskan steroid receptor transcripts orthologous to vertebrate estrogen receptors (ERs) and estrogen receptor-related receptors (ERRs) from the freshwater snail Marisa cornuarietis. Radiolabeled ligand binding analyses showed that neither recombinant receptor protein specifically bound 17beta-estradiol over the range applied (0.3-9.6 nM). These novel receptor transcripts have thus been designated mcER-like and mcERR respectively. Quantitative PCR revealed mcER-like to be expressed ubiquitously throughout a range of male and female structures studied, including neural and reproductive tissues. Highest absolute levels were seen in the male penis-sheath complex. The mcERR mRNA was also expressed ubiquitously throughout all male and female tissues analyzed here, with very low absolute transcript numbers in female accessory sex structures compared to other tissues.

MptpB, a Virulence Factor from Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Exhibits Triple-specificity Phosphatase Activity

The Biochemical Journal. Aug, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17584180

Bacterial pathogens have developed sophisticated mechanisms of evading the immune system to survive in infected host cells. Central to the pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the arrest of phagosome maturation, partly through interference with PtdIns signalling. The protein phosphatase MptpB is an essential secreted virulence factor in M. tuberculosis. A combination of bioinformatics analysis, enzyme kinetics and substrate-specificity characterization revealed that MptpB exhibits both dual-specificity protein phosphatase activity and, importantly, phosphoinositide phosphatase activity. Mutagenesis of conserved residues in the active site signature indicates a cysteine-based mechanism of dephosphorylation and identifies two new catalytic residues, Asp165, essential in catalysis, and Lys164, apparently involved in substrate specificity. Sequence similarities with mammalian lipid phosphatases and a preference for phosphoinositide substrates suggests a potential novel role of MptpB in PtdIns metabolism in the host and reveals new perspectives for the role of this phosphatase in mycobacteria pathogenicity.

Hypoxia Does Not Influence the Response of Fish to a Mixture of Estrogenic Chemicals

Environmental Science & Technology. Jan, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19209609

Chemical risk assessment procedures assign a major role to standardized toxicity tests, in which the response of a particular organism to a single test substance is determined under otherwise constant and favorable conditions in the laboratory. This approach fails to consider the potential for chemical interactions, as well as failing to consider how the toxicological response varies, depending on the conditions of exposure. As yet, the issue of confounding factors on chemically mediated effects in wildlife has received little attention, despite the fact that a range of physicochemical parameters, including temperature, water quality, and pH, are known to modify chemical toxicity. Here, we consider how the estrogenic response of fish varies with regard to hypoxia. Fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) were exposed to a mixture of estrogenic chemicals under hypoxic or normoxic conditions. Their estrogenic response was characterized using an in vivo assay, involving the analysis of the egg yolk protein, vitellogenin (VTG). The results revealed that there was no effect of hypoxia on the VTG response in either treatment group at the end of the exposure period. This suggests that this end point is robust and relatively insensitive to the effects of any physiological changes that arise as a result of hypoxia. The implications of these negative findings are discussed in terms of their relevance with regard to the development of risk assessment policy.

Inhibition of MptpB Phosphatase from Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Impairs Mycobacterial Survival in Macrophages

The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. May, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19240079

The secreted Mycobacterium tuberculosis protein tyrosine phosphatase (MptpB) is a virulence factor for M. tuberculosis and contributes to its survival within host macrophages. The aim of this study was to identify potent selective inhibitors of MptpB and to determine the efficacy of these compounds in mycobacterium-infected macrophages.

A New Family of Phosphoinositide Phosphatases in Microorganisms: Identification and Biochemical Analysis

BMC Genomics. 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20678187

Phosphoinositide metabolism is essential to membrane dynamics and impinges on many cellular processes, including phagocytosis. Modulation of phosphoinositide metabolism is important for pathogenicity and virulence of many human pathogens, allowing them to survive and replicate in the host cells. Phosphoinositide phosphatases from bacterial pathogens are therefore key players in this modulation and constitute attractive targets for chemotherapy. MptpB, a virulence factor from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, has phosphoinositide phosphatase activity and a distinct active site P-loop signature HCXXGKDR that shares characteristics with eukaryotic lipid phosphatases and protein tyrosine phosphatases. We used this P-loop signature as a "diagnostic motif" to identify related putative phosphatases with phosphoinositide activity in other organisms.

Estrogenic Activity of Tropical Fish Food Can Alter Baseline Vitellogenin Concentrations in Male Fathead Minnow (Pimephales Promelas)

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry / SETAC. May, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21305580

Vitellogenin (VTG) is a precursor of egg-yolk protein and is therefore present at high concentrations in the plasma of female fish. In male fish, VTG concentrations are usually undetectable or low but can be induced upon exposure to estrogenic substances either via the water or the diet. This work was performed to determine the reason for the apparently elevated VTG concentrations in unexposed stock male fathead minnow maintained in our laboratory. The results showed clearly that some of the food given to the fish was estrogenic and that replacement of this with nonestrogenic food led to a significant reduction in the basal VTG levels measured in male fish after a six-month period. This reduction in male VTG concentrations drastically increased the sensitivity of the VTG test in further studies carried out with these fish. Moreover, a review of published concentrations of VTG in unexposed male fathead minnow suggests that this problem may exist in other laboratories. The fathead minnow is a standard ecotoxicological fish test species, so these findings will be of interest to any laboratory carrying out fish tests on endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Phylogenetic and Genetic Linkage Between Novel Atypical Dual-specificity Phosphatases from Non-metazoan Organisms

Molecular Genetics and Genomics : MGG. Apr, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21409566

Dual-specificity phosphatases (DSPs) constitute a large protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) family, with examples in distant evolutive phyla. PFA-DSPs (Plant and Fungi Atypical DSPs) are a group of atypical DSPs present in plants, fungi, kinetoplastids, and slime molds, the members of which share structural similarity with atypical- and lipid phosphatase DSPs from mammals. The analysis of the PFA-DSPs from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana (AtPFA-DSPs) showed differential tissue mRNA expression, substrate specificity, and catalytic activity for these proteins, suggesting different functional roles among plant PFA-DSPs. Bioinformatic analysis revealed the existence of novel PFA-DSP-related proteins in fungi (Oca1, Oca2, Oca4 and Oca6 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and protozoa, which were segregated from plant PFA-DSPs. The closest yeast homolog for these proteins was the PFA-DSP from S. cerevisiae ScPFA-DSP1/Siw14/Oca3. Oca1, Oca2, Siw14/Oca3, Oca4, and Oca6 were involved in the yeast response to caffeine and rapamycin stresses. Siw14/Oca3 was an active phosphatase in vitro, whereas no phosphatase activity could be detected for Oca1. Remarkably, overexpression of Siw14/Oca3 suppressed the caffeine sensitivity of oca1, oca2, oca4, and oca6 deleted strains, indicating a genetic linkage and suggesting a functional relationship for these proteins. Functional studies on mutations targeting putative catalytic residues from the A. thaliana AtPFA-DSP1/At1g05000 protein indicated the absence of canonical amino acids acting as the general acid/base in the phosphor-ester hydrolysis, which suggests a specific mechanism of reaction for PFA-DSPs and related enzymes. Our studies demonstrate the existence of novel phosphatase protein families in fungi and protozoa, with active and inactive enzymes linked in common signaling pathways. This illustrates the catalytic and functional complexity of the expanding family of atypical dual-specificity phosphatases in non-metazoans, including parasite organisms responsible for infectious human diseases.

UvrD2 is Essential in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, but Its Helicase Activity is Not Required

Journal of Bacteriology. Sep, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21725019

UvrD is an SF1 family helicase involved in DNA repair that is widely conserved in bacteria. Mycobacterium tuberculosis has two annotated UvrD homologues; here we investigate the role of UvrD2. The uvrD2 gene at its native locus could be knocked out only in the presence of a second copy of the gene, demonstrating that uvrD2 is essential. Analysis of the putative protein domain structure of UvrD2 shows a distinctive domain architecture, with an extended C terminus containing an HRDC domain normally found in SF2 family helicases and a linking domain carrying a tetracysteine motif. Truncated constructs lacking the C-terminal domains of UvrD2 were able to compensate for the loss of the chromosomal copy, showing that these C-terminal domains are not essential. Although UvrD2 is a functional helicase, a mutant form of the protein lacking helicase activity was able to permit deletion of uvrD2 at its native locus. However, a mutant protein unable to hydrolyze ATP or translocate along DNA was not able to compensate for lack of the wild-type protein. Therefore, we concluded that the essential role played by UvrD2 is unlikely to involve its DNA unwinding activity and is more likely to involve DNA translocation and, possibly, protein displacement.

Additional Treatment of Wastewater Reduces Endocrine Disruption in Wild Fish--a Comparative Study of Tertiary and Advanced Treatments

Environmental Science & Technology. May, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22500691

Steroid estrogens are thought to be the major cause of feminization (intersex) in wild fish. Widely used wastewater treatment technologies are not effective at removing these contaminants to concentrations thought to be required to protect aquatic wildlife. A number of advanced treatment processes have been proposed to reduce the concentrations of estrogens entering the environment. Before investment is made in such processes, it is imperative that we compare their efficacy in terms of removal of steroid estrogens and their feminizing effects with other treatment options. This study assessed both steroid removal and intersex induction in adult and early life stage fish (roach, Rutilus rutilus). Roach were exposed directly to either secondary (activated sludge process (ASP)), tertiary (sand filtrated (SF)), or advanced (chlorine dioxide (ClO(2)), granular activated charcoal (GAC)) treated effluents for six months. Surprisingly, both the advanced GAC and tertiary SF treatments (but not the ClO(2) treatment) significantly removed the intersex induction associated with the ASP effluent; this was not predicted by the steroid estrogen measurements, which were higher in the tertiary SF than either the GAC or the ClO(2). Therefore our study highlights the importance of using both biological and chemical analysis when assessing new treatment technologies.

Several Synthetic Progestins with Different Potencies Adversely Affect Reproduction of Fish

Environmental Science & Technology. Feb, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23360115

Synthetic progestins are widely used as a component in both contraceptives and in hormone replacement therapy (HRT), both on their own and in combination with EE2. Their presence in the environment is now established in wastewater effluent and river water and this has led to concerns regarding their potential effects on aquatic organisms living in these waters. We carried out in vivo experiments to determine the potencies of four different synthetic progestins on the reproductive capabilities of the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). We then performed a series of in vitro assays to try and determine the reason for the effects seen in the in vivo experiments. In the first experiment, fathead minnow exposed to a single concentration of 100 ng/L of either Levonorgestrel or Gestodene stopped spawning almost completely. The same nominal concentration of Desogestrel and Drospirenone did not affect reproduction (21 d NOECs of 100 ng/L). The second experiment investigated two progestins of different potency: Gestodene at 1, 10, and 100 ng/L and Desogestrel at 100 ng/L, 1 μg/L, and 10 μg/L. Gestodene concentrations as low as 1 ng/L had significant effects on reproduction over 21 d, whereas concentrations of Desogestrel at or above 1 μg/L were required to significantly reduce egg production. The synthetic progestins also masculinized the female fish in a concentration-dependent manner. Results from yeast-based in vitro assays demonstrated that the progestins are all strongly androgenic, thereby explaining the masculinization effects. The results strongly suggest that synthetic progestins merit serious consideration as environmental pollutants.

No Substantial Changes in Estrogen Receptor and Estrogen-related Receptor Orthologue Gene Transcription in Marisa Cornuarietis Exposed to Estrogenic Chemicals

Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Sep, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23747549

Estrogen receptor orthologues in molluscs may be targets for endocrine disruptors, although mechanistic evidence is lacking. Molluscs are reported to be highly susceptible to effects caused by very low concentrations of environmental estrogens which, if substantiated, would have a major impact on the risk assessment of many chemicals. The present paper describes the most thorough evaluation to-date of the susceptibility of Marisa cornuarietis ER and ERR gene transcription to modulation by vertebrate estrogens in vivo and in vitro. We investigated the effects of estradiol-17β and 4-tert-Octylphenol exposure on in vivo estrogen receptor (ER) and estrogen-related receptor (ERR) gene transcription in the reproductive and neural tissues of the gastropod snail M. cornuarietis over a 12-week period. There was no significant effect (p>0.05) of treatment on gene transcription levels between exposed and non-exposed snails. Absence of a direct interaction of estradiol-17β and 4-tert-Octylphenol with mollusc ER and ERR protein was also supported by in vitro studies in transfected HEK-293 cells. Additional in vitro studies with a selection of other potential ligands (including methyl-testosterone, 17α-ethinylestradiol, 4-hydroxytamoxifen, diethylstilbestrol, cyproterone acetate and ICI182780) showed no interaction when tested using this assay. In repeated in vitro tests, however, genistein (with mcER-like) and bisphenol-A (with mcERR) increased reporter gene expression at high concentrations only (>10(-6)M for Gen and >10(-5)M for BPA, respectively). Like vertebrate estrogen receptors, the mollusc ER protein bound to the consensus vertebrate estrogen-response element (ERE). Together, these data provide no substantial evidence that mcER-like and mcERR activation and transcript levels in tissues are modulated by the vertebrate estrogen estradiol-17β or 4-tert-Octylphenol in vivo, or that other ligands of vertebrate ERs and ERRs (with the possible exception of genistein and bisphenol A, respectively) would do otherwise.

Removal of Ecotoxicity of 17α-ethinylestradiol Using TAML/peroxide Water Treatment

Scientific Reports. 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26068117

17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), a synthetic oestrogen in oral contraceptives, is one of many pharmaceuticals found in inland waterways worldwide as a result of human consumption and excretion into wastewater treatment systems. At low parts per trillion (ppt), EE2 induces feminisation of male fish, diminishing reproductive success and causing fish population collapse. Intended water quality standards for EE2 set a much needed global precedent. Ozone and activated carbon provide effective wastewater treatments, but their energy intensities and capital/operating costs are formidable barriers to adoption. Here we describe the technical and environmental performance of a fast- developing contender for mitigation of EE2 contamination of wastewater based upon small- molecule, full-functional peroxidase enzyme replicas called "TAML activators". From neutral to basic pH, TAML activators with H2O2 efficiently degrade EE2 in pure lab water, municipal effluents and EE2-spiked synthetic urine. TAML/H2O2 treatment curtails estrogenicity in vitro and substantially diminishes fish feminization in vivo. Our results provide a starting point for a future process in which tens of thousands of tonnes of wastewater could be treated per kilogram of catalyst. We suggest TAML/H2O2 is a worthy candidate for exploration as an environmentally compatible, versatile, method for removing EE2 and other pharmaceuticals from municipal wastewaters.

From Single Chemicals to Mixtures--reproductive Effects of Levonorgestrel and Ethinylestradiol on the Fathead Minnow

Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Dec, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26551686

The aquatic environment is polluted with thousands of chemicals. It is currently unclear which of these pose a significant threat to aquatic biota. The typical exposure scenario is now represented by a widespread blanket of contamination composed of myriads of individual pollutants-each typically present at a low concentration. The synthetic steroids, 17α-ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel, have been widely reported to be present in the aquatic environment in the low ng to sub-ng/l range. They are widely used in contraceptive formulations, both individually and in combination. Our research employed the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) 21 day 'pair-breeding' assay to assess reproductive output when pairs of fish were exposed to the single chemicals at low environmentally relevant concentrations, and then to a binary mixture of them. A variety of endpoints were assessed, including egg production, which was inhibited in a concentration-dependent manner by both the individual chemicals and the mixture. Significant, sex specific effects were also seen with both chemicals, at differing levels of biological organisation. Plasma concentrations of EE2 and levonorgestrel were predicted and in the case of levonorgestrel measured, and compared with the human therapeutic plasma concentrations (Read-Across approach) to support the interpretation of the results. A novel quantitative method was developed for the data analysis, which ensured a suitable endpoint for the comparative mixture assessment. This approach compares the reproductive performance from individual pairs of fish during chemical exposure to its pre-treatment performance. The responses from the empirical mixture study were compared to predictions derived from the single substance data. We hypothesised combined responses which were best described by the concept of concentration addition, and found no clear indications against this additivity expectation. However, the effect profiles support the current knowledge that both compounds act in different ways to reduce egg production in fish, and suggest that probably response addition (also called Independent action) is the more appropriate mixture model in this case.

No Evidence of Exposure to Environmental Estrogens in Two Feral Fish Species Sampled from the Yarra River, Australia: A Comparison with Northern Hemisphere Studies

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. Sep, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27228034

Environmental estrogens originate from a variety of sources including sewage treatment plant (STP) effluents and adverse physiological effects (endocrine disruption) have been observed in several fish species sampled downstream of STP discharges. In this study we examined common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and roach (Rutilis rutilis) for signs of exposure to environmental estrogens in the iconic Yarra River, Melbourne, Australia. The Yarra River flows through the city of Melbourne and more than 2 million people live within the catchment. Two STPs discharge water into the Yarra River within the middle reaches, and the areas immediately downstream of these discharge locations were the focus of this study. Carp and roach were chosen as test species since both have been utilised extensively for endocrine disruption research throughout Europe, North America and Asia, and data from various international studies was used for comparison with the results of the present study. Neither species showed evidence of exposure to environmental estrogens, with no elevation of plasma vitellogenin levels in males and no incidence of intersex gonads. Most physiological endpoints in both species from this study were within ranges reported in carp and roach from reference sites in other studies, however some degenerative histological changes in both male and female gonads were observed. Surface water samples showed no estrogenic activity (measured by the yeast-estrogen screen, YES), but did display strong anti-estrogenic and weak androgenic activity (measured by the yeast-androgen screen, YAS). Whilst the results show no evidence of impacts from environmental estrogens in the Yarra River, the presence of both anti-estrogenic and androgenic activity in water samples, as well as some gonadal changes in carp is concerning and indicates that our focus needs to broaden, in order to look for biological impacts in resident fauna that might be due to environmental pollutants other than environmental estrogens.

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