Genomics: An In Vitro Toxicology Point of View

Raffaella Corvi

Genomics, and in particular its derived discipline, toxicogenomics, are rapidly developing technologies, which permit studies on the impact of chemicals and drugs on gene expression in particular biological systems. Enormous amounts of data will be provided in the context of mechanistic and predictive toxicology from the use of the DNA microarray approach for the simultaneous analysis of the expression pattern of multiple genes. The high-throughput requirement of these approaches necessitates in vitrocell culture systems. This article will give a short overview of the areas of ECVAM's research in which this technology will initially be applied.
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Microarray Assessment of Fibronectin, Collagen and Integrin Expression and the Role of Fibronectin–Collagen Coating in the Growth of Normal, SV40 T-antigen immortalised

Zsolt Sarang, Ylva Haig, Annette Hansson, Martin Vondracek, Lars Wärngård and Roland C. Grafström

Extracellular matrix proteins affect the growth and survival of epithelial tissues. Accordingly, surface coating with fibronectin and collagen is a common practice for promoting keratinocyte culture. In this study, the expression of fibronectin and collagen-related factors, including integrins, by normal (NOK), SV40 T-antigen-immortalised (SVpgC2a) and malignant (SqCC/Y1) human oral keratinocytes, under standardised, serum-free conditions, was investigated by using microarray analysis. Cell growth was also studied in the presence and absence of a matrix consisting of human fibronectin and bovine collagen type I (FN–COL). Fibronectin transcripts were abundant in all cells, whereas 16 of 29 collagen chains and 14 of 24 integrin subunits were variably detected. With regard to both the expression level and the number of transcripts, higher collagen and lower integrin expression was observed in SVpgC2a cells than in NOKs and SqCC/Y1 cells. The cell types differed with regard to colony-forming efficiency and the rate and kinetics of growth at high cell density. For all cell types, FN–COL coating consistently stimulated cell migration, without influencing growth in mass culture or clonal density. The results demonstrate the transcription of genes associated with the formation and function of fibronectin and collagen in oral epithelium, and variably altered expression patterns in transformed states, and show that keratinocyte lines can be successfully transferred without the stimulus from extracellular FN–COL.
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Molecular Targets and Early Response Biomarkers for the Prediction of Developmental Toxicity In Vitro

Michael Stigson, Kim Kultima, Måns Jergil, Birger Scholz, Henrik Alm, Anne-Lee Gustafson and Lennart Dencker

There is an urgent need for new in vitro methods to predict the potential developmental toxicity of candidate drugs in the early lead identification and optimisation process. This would lead to a reduction in the total number of animals required in full-scale developmental toxicology studies, and would improve the efficiency of drug development. However, suitable in vitro systems permitting robust highthroughput screening for this purpose, for the most part, remain to be designed. An understanding of the mechanisms involved in developmental toxicity may be essential for the validation of in vitro tests. Early response biomarkers — even a single one — could contribute to reducing assay time and facilitating automation. The use of toxicogenomics approaches to study in vitro and in vivo models in parallel may be a powerful tool in defining such mechanisms of action and the molecular targets of toxicity, and also for use in finding possible biomarkers of early response. Using valproic acid as a model substance, the use of DNA microarrays to identify teratogen-responsive genes in cell models is discussed. It is concluded that gene expression in P19 mouse embryocarcinoma cells represents a potentially suitable assay system, which could be readily used in a tiered testing system for developmental toxicity testing.
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SNP Genotyping for the Genetic Monitoring of Laboratory Mice by Using a Microarray-based Method with Dual colour Fluorescence Hybridisation

Shu-Fang Cui, Qian Zhou and Xiu-Hua Qu

Ensuring the genetic homogeneity of the mice used in laboratory experiments contributes to the Reduction aspect of the Three Rs, by maximising the quality of the data obtained from any animals that are used for these purposes, and ultimately reducing the numbers of animals used. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping is especially suitable for use in the analysis of the genetic purity of model organisms such as the mouse, because bi-allelic markers remain fully informative when used to characterise crosses between inbred strains. Here, we attempted to apply a microarray-based method for a SNP marker to monitor the genetic quality of inbred mouse strains, so as to validate the reliability, stability and applicability of this SNP genotyping panel. The amplified PCR products containing four different SNP loci from four inbred mouse strains were spotted and immobilised onto amino-modified glass slides to generate a microarray. This was then interrogated through hybridisation with dual-colour probes, to determine the SNP genotypes of each sample. The results indicated that this microarray-based method could effectively determine the genotypes of the four selected SNPs with a high degree of accuracy. We have developed a new SNP genotyping technique for effective use in the genetic monitoring of inbred mouse strains.

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