The insecticide synergist piperonyl butoxide inhibits hedgehog signaling: assessing chemical risks.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The spread of chemicals, including insecticides, into the environment often raises public health concerns, as exemplified by a recent epidemiologic study associating in utero piperonyl butoxide (PBO) exposure with delayed mental development. The insecticide synergist PBO is listed among the top 10 chemicals detected in indoor dust; a systematic assessment of risks from PBO exposure, as for many toxicants unfortunately, may be underdeveloped when important biological targets that can cause toxicity are unknown. Hedgehog/Smoothened signaling is critical in neurological development. This study was designed to use novel high-throughput in vitro drug screening technology to identify modulators of Hedgehog signaling in environmental chemicals to assist the assessment of their potential risks. A directed library of 1408 environmental toxicants was screened for Hedgehog/Smoothened antagonist activity using a high-content assay that evaluated the interaction between Smoothened and βarrestin2 green fluorescent protein. PBO was identified as a Hedgehog/Smoothened antagonist capable of inhibiting Hedgehog signaling. We found that PBO bound Smoothened and blocked Smoothened overexpression-induced Gli-luciferase reporter activity but had no effect on Gli-1 downstream transcriptional factor-induced Gli activity. PBO inhibited Sonic Hedgehog ligand-induced Gli signaling and mouse cerebellar granular precursor cell proliferation. Moreover, PBO disrupted zebrafish development. Our findings demonstrate the value of high-throughput target-based screening strategies that can successfully evaluate large numbers of environmental toxicants and identify key targets and unknown biological activity that is helpful in properly assessing potential risks.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wang, J; Lu, J; Mook, RA; Zhang, M; Zhao, S; Barak, LS; Freedman, JH; Lyerly, HK; Chen, W

Published Date

  • August 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 128 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 517 - 523

PubMed ID

  • 22552772

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3493191

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0929

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/toxsci/kfs165


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States