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The genotoxicities of four samples of diesel exhaust particle (DEP) extracts (DEPE) and nine nitroarenes found in DEPE were investigated after activation catalyzed by human cytochrome P450 (P450) family 1 enzymes co-expressed with NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (NPR) in Escherichia coli membranes. The DEPE samples induced umu gene expression in Salmonella typhimurium TA1535/pSK1002 without any P450 system and were further activated by human P450 1B1/NPR membranes. Moderate activation of the DEPE sample by P450 1A2/NPR membranes was also observed, but not by either P450 1A1/NPR or NPR membranes. 1-Nitropyrene (1-NP) was strongly activated by human P450 1B1/NPR membranes. 1,8-Dinitropyrene (1,8-DNP) was most highly activated by P450 1A1 and 1B1 systems for the three DNPs tested. In contrast, 1, 3-DNP was inactivated by P450 1A1/NPR, 1A2/NPR, and 1B1/NPR systems and slightly activated by NPR membranes. 2-Nitrofluoranthene (2-NF) and 3-nitrofluoranthene (3-NF) showed activities similar to 1-NP after bioactivation by P450 1B1/NPR membranes. However, the genotoxicities of 6-nitrochrysene, 7-nitrobenz[a]anthracene, and 6-nitrobenzo[a]pyrene were all weak in the present assay system. Apparent genotoxic activities of DEPE were very low compared with standard nitroarenes in the presence of P450s, possibly because unknown component(s) of DEPE had inhibitory effects on the bioactivation of 1-NP and 1,8-DNP catalyzed by human P450 1B1. These results suggest that environmental chemicals existing in airborne DEP, in addition to 1-NP, 1,6-DNP, 1,8-DNP, 2-NF, and 3-NF, can be activated by human P450 1B1. Biological actions of air pollutants such as nitroarenes to human extrahepatic tissues may be of concern in tissues in which P450 1B1 is expressed.