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      Environmental Impact on Vascular Development Predicted by High-Throughput Screening

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          Background: Understanding health risks to embryonic development from exposure to environmental chemicals is a significant challenge given the diverse chemical landscape and paucity of data for most of these compounds. High-throughput screening (HTS) in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ToxCast™ project provides vast data on an expanding chemical library currently consisting of > 1,000 unique compounds across > 500 in vitro assays in phase I (complete) and Phase II (under way). This public data set can be used to evaluate concentration-dependent effects on many diverse biological targets and build predictive models of prototypical toxicity pathways that can aid decision making for assessments of human developmental health and disease.

          Objective: We mined the ToxCast phase I data set to identify signatures for potential chemical disruption of blood vessel formation and remodeling.

          Methods: ToxCast phase I screened 309 chemicals using 467 HTS assays across nine assay technology platforms. The assays measured direct interactions between chemicals and molecular targets (receptors, enzymes), as well as downstream effects on reporter gene activity or cellular consequences. We ranked the chemicals according to individual vascular bioactivity score and visualized the ranking using ToxPi (Toxicological Priority Index) profiles.

          Results: Targets in inflammatory chemokine signaling, the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway, and the plasminogen-activating system were strongly perturbed by some chemicals, and we found positive correlations with developmental effects from the U.S. EPA ToxRefDB (Toxicological Reference Database) in vivo database containing prenatal rat and rabbit guideline studies. We observed distinctly different correlative patterns for chemicals with effects in rabbits versus rats, despite derivation of in vitro signatures based on human cells and cell-free biochemical targets, implying conservation but potentially differential contributions of developmental pathways among species. Follow-up analysis with antiangiogenic thalidomide analogs and additional in vitro vascular targets showed in vitro activity consistent with the most active environmental chemicals tested here.

          Conclusions: We predicted that blood vessel development is a target for environmental chemicals acting as putative vascular disruptor compounds (pVDCs) and identified potential species differences in sensitive vascular developmental pathways.

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          Most cited references 57

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          KEGG: kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes.

           M Kanehisa (2000)
          KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) is a knowledge base for systematic analysis of gene functions, linking genomic information with higher order functional information. The genomic information is stored in the GENES database, which is a collection of gene catalogs for all the completely sequenced genomes and some partial genomes with up-to-date annotation of gene functions. The higher order functional information is stored in the PATHWAY database, which contains graphical representations of cellular processes, such as metabolism, membrane transport, signal transduction and cell cycle. The PATHWAY database is supplemented by a set of ortholog group tables for the information about conserved subpathways (pathway motifs), which are often encoded by positionally coupled genes on the chromosome and which are especially useful in predicting gene functions. A third database in KEGG is LIGAND for the information about chemical compounds, enzyme molecules and enzymatic reactions. KEGG provides Java graphics tools for browsing genome maps, comparing two genome maps and manipulating expression maps, as well as computational tools for sequence comparison, graph comparison and path computation. The KEGG databases are daily updated and made freely available (http://www.
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            Vascular endothelial growth factor: basic science and clinical progress.

            Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an endothelial cell-specific mitogen in vitro and an angiogenic inducer in a variety of in vivo models. Hypoxia has been shown to be a major inducer of VEGF gene transcription. The tyrosine kinases Flt-1 (VEGFR-1) and Flk-1/KDR (VEGFR-2) are high-affinity VEGF receptors. The role of VEGF in developmental angiogenesis is emphasized by the finding that loss of a single VEGF allele results in defective vascularization and early embryonic lethality. VEGF is critical also for reproductive and bone angiogenesis. Substantial evidence also implicates VEGF as a mediator of pathological angiogenesis. In situ hybridization studies demonstrate expression of VEGF mRNA in the majority of human tumors. Anti-VEGF monoclonal antibodies and other VEGF inhibitors block the growth of several tumor cell lines in nude mice. Clinical trials with various VEGF inhibitors in a variety of malignancies are ongoing. Very recently, an anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody (bevacizumab; Avastin) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a first-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer in combination with chemotherapy. Furthermore, VEGF is implicated in intraocular neovascularization associated with diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
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              Identification of a primary target of thalidomide teratogenicity.

              Half a century ago, thalidomide was widely prescribed to pregnant women as a sedative but was found to be teratogenic, causing multiple birth defects. Today, thalidomide is still used in the treatment of leprosy and multiple myeloma, although how it causes limb malformation and other developmental defects is unknown. Here, we identified cereblon (CRBN) as a thalidomide-binding protein. CRBN forms an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex with damaged DNA binding protein 1 (DDB1) and Cul4A that is important for limb outgrowth and expression of the fibroblast growth factor Fgf8 in zebrafish and chicks. Thalidomide initiates its teratogenic effects by binding to CRBN and inhibiting the associated ubiquitin ligase activity. This study reveals a basis for thalidomide teratogenicity and may contribute to the development of new thalidomide derivatives without teratogenic activity.

                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                25 July 2011
                November 2011
                : 119
                : 11
                : 1596-1603
                [1 ]National Center for Computational Toxiciology, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
                [2 ]Lockheed Martin, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
                [3 ]National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, and
                [4 ]National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to N.C. Kleinstreuer, National Center for Computational Toxicology (B205-01), Office of Research & Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711 USA. Telephone: (919) 541-5776. Fax: (919) 541-1194. E-mail: kleinstreuer.nicole@

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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