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Key Event Title
Binding, Transthyretin in serum
|Level of Biological Organization|
Key Event Components
Key Event Overview
AOPs Including This Key Event
|AOP Name||Role of event in AOP||Point of Contact||Author Status||OECD Status|
|Transthyretin interference||MolecularInitiatingEvent||Kristie Sullivan (send email)||Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome||Under Development|
|TH displacement from serum TTR leading to altered amphibian metamorphosis||MolecularInitiatingEvent||Jonathan Haselman (send email)||Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite|
|Homo sapiens||Homo sapiens||High||NCBI|
|Bubalus bubalis||Bubalus bubalis||High||NCBI|
|Rattus norvegicus||Rattus norvegicus||High||NCBI|
|Mus musculus||Mus musculus||High||NCBI|
|Gallus gallus||Gallus gallus||High||NCBI|
|Sus scrofa||Sus scrofa||High||NCBI|
|Pan troglodytes||Pan troglodytes||High||NCBI|
|Monodelphis domestica||Monodelphis domestica||High||NCBI|
|Xenopus tropicalis||Xenopus (Silurana) tropicalis||High||NCBI|
|Bos taurus||Bos taurus||High||NCBI|
|Macaca mulatta||Macaca mulatta||High||NCBI|
|Meleagris gallopavo||Meleagris gallopavo||High||NCBI|
|Canis lupus familiaris||Canis lupus familiaris||High||NCBI|
|Ovis aries||Ovis aries||High||NCBI|
|Erinaceus europaeus||Erinaceus europaeus||High||NCBI|
|Xenopus laevis||Xenopus laevis||NCBI|
Key Event Description
The key event that initiates this AOP (i.e. the MIE) is binding of a xenobiotic to the thyroxine (T4)-binding site of transthyretin (TTR), displacing T4 from the binding site(s) of TTR and adding this to the pool of free T4 in serum, which is normally roughly 0.02% (20 pM) of total T4 (100 nM) [in CSF, free T4 is roughly 1.4% (70 pM) of total T4 (2-3 nM)](Schweizer and Kohrle 2013).
TTR has been found to bind with a number of ligands, including pharmacologic agents as well as flavonoids and halogenated aromatic compounds, with differing strengths with some xenobiotics found to be possessing a binding affinity equal to or stronger than T4 (i.e. "competitive binder"). Studies with other xenobiotics with similar structural characteristics have found that a higher degree of halogen substitution, as well as placement on the ring relative to the hydroxyl group, increases binding affinity (Chauhan et al. 2000, Lans et al. 1993, Lans et al. 1994, Ren and Guo 2012, van den Berg 1990, van den Berg et al. 1991, Weiss et al 2015). Weiss et al (2015) compiled a database of almost 150 compounds found to bind to TTR and 52 of these were found to have higher affinity than T4 and thus, could be considered competitive binders in serum.
The function of the serum protein TTR is to deliver T4 to target cells in the liver, tight junctions, etc. where it is facilitated across the membrane via specific receptors and converted to the active form T3, where it can activate nuclear receptors. TTR facilitates passage across key tight junctions, such as the blood-brain barrier, the CSF barrier and transplacentally, and the interruption of thyroid serum protein-assisted transport during certain developmental windows can lead to profound developmental neurotoxicity (i.e. cretinism). It should be noted, though, that in mammals with all three functional serum transport proteins (TTR, albumin and TBG), substantial reductions in total T4 can be observed with little to no adverse effect due to overall redundancy of this system. In this scenario, roughly 75% of serum T4 is bound to TBG, 15% to TTR and up to 5% for to albumin (OECD DRP 2012). That being said, TTR is the sole transport protein in the CSF and T4 is not biosynthesized by the fetus until the second trimester - thus, the mother is the sole source of T4 for the fetus during early gestation and this appears to be the developmental window of greatest concern to human physiology (for example, see Loubiere et al 2010).
How It Is Measured or Detected
Methods that have been previously reviewed and approved by a recognized authority should be included in the Overview section above. All other methods, including those well established in the published literature, should be described here. Consider the following criteria when describing each method: 1. Is the assay fit for purpose? 2. Is the assay directly or indirectly (i.e. a surrogate) related to a key event relevant to the final adverse effect in question? 3. Is the assay repeatable? 4. Is the assay reproducible?
Transthyretin is a 55-kDa tetramer protein composed of two identical monomer subunits, each of which is formed by two four-stranded beta sheets, which are assembled around the central channel of the protein (Blake et al. 1978). This central channel contains two identical binding sites; however, there is a 100-fold difference in binding constants between the first and second T4 molecule bound and this "negative cooperativity" results in a 1:1 relationship between T4 and TTR in terms of protein transport in serum (Ferguson et al. 1975). The phenolic hydroxyl and iodine substitutions on the phenolic ring of T4 are important structural characteristics that differentiate ability to bind to TTR, as opposed to other serum binding proteins like TBG (Andrea et al. 1980). T4 binds to TTR in one of two ways: "forward" and "reverse" mode. In forward mode, the phenolic ring of T4 is buried deeply in the TTR binding site while this ring interacts with residues at the entrance of the binding channel in reverse mode (Lans et al 1993). Detailed structural analysis of the protein is available from X-ray crystallography (Rerat and Schwick 1967; Blake et al 1977).
There are three main in vitro approaches to measuring binding affinity between TTR and its ligands: radioligand-binding assays (RLBAs), surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and fluorescence displacement. Biochemical (in chemico) approaches using GC/MS or LC/MS also exist that use recombinant (rTTR) and display limits of detection in the low nM range, including a multi-mode, ultra-high-performance LC method and anon-radioactive label, [13C6]-T4 (Aqai et al 2012).
Van den Berg et al (1991) used an in vitro competitive radioligand binding assay with gel-filtration procedure modified from Somack et al (1982) as well to screen 65 compounds from 12 chemical classes for evidence of interference with the T4 binding site of TTR using a radioligand binding assay and reported results semi-quantitatively, while previous work using the same method on chlorinated phenols found that affinity rose with degree of chlorination (pentachlorophenol displayed an IC50 of 2.3 x 108 M; derived Ka = 1.2 x 108 M-1) versus the natural ligand (T4; 4 x 108 M)(Van Den Berg, 1990).
Lans et al (1993, 1994) used purified TTR and T4 [125I] as a displaceable radioligand and gel-filtration procedure modified from Somack et al (1982) to study hydroxylated PCBs PCDDs and PCDFs and found many competitive binders in all classes; again, dependent on degree of chlorination, presence and placement of hydroxyl atom relative to chlorine placement (IC50 in 6.5-25 nM range; Ka = 0.78-3.95 x 108 M-1) versus the natural ligand (T4, Ka = 2.05 x 107 M-1). Meerts et al (2000) studied PBDEs and related compounds (pentabromophenol, Tetrabromobisphenol A) and found multiple competitive binders (IC50 range 7.7 - 67 nM; Ka = 4.3 - 38 x 107 M-1) versus the natural ligand (T4; IC50 = 80.7 nM; Ka = 3.5 x 107 M-1).
Cao et al (2010) used a novel fluorescence displacement method using a protein-binding probe that fluoresces when bound, and the intensity of which dips following displacement for a ligand. Analyte titration curves are used to derive IC50 and binding constant values. They used an ANSA probe to screen 14 hydroxylated PBDEs and found competitive binding with TTR (Ka = 1.4 x 107 M-1 to 6.9 x 108 M-1). Molecular docking analysis revealed a ligand-binding channel in TTR for OH-PBDE binding. Ren and Guo (2012) reported use of a non-radioactive, fluorescin-T4 conjugate designed as a fluorescent probe (vs ANSA probe which is less TTR-specific) to study the binding interaction of multiple hydroxylated PBDEs with differing degrees of bromination and differing hydroxy positions and TTR. Competitive binders were found (IC50 range = 110-219 nM) relative to the natural ligand (T4; IC50 = 260 nM) and Kd values for the competitive binders ranged from 101-210 nM versus T4 (Kd = 239 nM). Weiss et al (2009) initially determined the competitive binding of TTR with PFCs via radioligand-binding assay of Hamers et al (2006) and Lans et al (1993). Ren et al (2016) used a fluorescence displacement assay to study 16 PFCs and found T4 to have an IC50 of 31 nM (Kd = 5 nM), as compared to PFOS (the strongest binder) TC50 of 130 nM (Kd = 20 nM).
The radioligand methods have been criticized for use of hazardous and costly radio-labeled material and physical separation of bound and free T4-[125I] is required. Marchesini et al (2006, 2008) reported a surface plasmon resonance biosensor-based method using rTTR, a surface-based measurement which may not fully characterize the binding reaction of a homogenous solution or matrix. Optimized SPR is more sensitive, amenable to high-throughput screening and easier to perform than RLBAs. Furthermore, hydroxy-metabolites do not endure destructive clean-up/extraction methods and differences in physicochemical qualities from parent compounds complicates separation.
Montano et al (2012) introduced a new method (using a modified method of Murk et al 1994 for in vitro bioactivation of PCBs and PBDEs with an ANSA-TTR displacement assay) to selectively extract metabolites (and limit co-extraction of interferants, like free fatty acids) and derive an IC50 dose-response curve for OH-PBDEs, OH-PCBs, etc. using bioactivated parent compound in a 96-well plate system. IC50 for the natural ligand (T4) was 0.26 uM while the IC50s for the hydroxy metabolites ranged from 0.23-0.63 uM.
Domain of Applicability
The transthyretin protein has been found to be highly conserved among vertebrates, as supported by X-ray crystallography studies in man, rat, chicken and fish as well as comparison of amino acid sequence (Richardson 2007). Over time, evolution has driven the nature of the N-terminal region of TTR from a more hydrophobic and longer region (as found in fish and amphibians) to a shorter and more hydrophilic region (as found in the placental mammals). The consequence of this biochemical change in the TTR protein was to change the primary function of TTR from binding and carrying T3 in serum to carrying T4 in serum (as it does almost exclusively in rats, as rats lack TBG during adult life)(Alshehri et al. 2015). Thus, in the placental mammals, TTR operates to carry T4 to specific tissues, where it is displaced, transported across the cell membrane by a different ligand-mediated process, and then converted to T3 via deiodinase enzymes within the cell (where it activates the nuclear receptor to cause downstream effects).
TTR is encoded by a single gene on human chromosome 18 (18q11.2-12.1) (LeBeau and Geurts van Kessel 1991).
TTR is synthesized in the adult liver only by eutherians (birds and placental mammals) and herbivorous marsupials; however, it is also synthesized in the choroid plexus of reptiles, birds and mammals. TTR is one of three thyroid hormone serum transport proteins, along with albumin (ALB) and thyroid-binding globulin (TBG). Over evolutionary time, the N-terminal section of TTR has become shortened and more hydrophilic such that T3 is more tightly bound in birds and reptiles but T4 is more tightly bound to TTR in mammals (Schrieber 2002). They all differ in binding affinity and dissociation rate for both T4 and T3 and together form a buffered system that seeks to keep circulating T4 within a certain range: between the normal concentration of free T4 in serum (30 pM) and solubility limit in serum (2 uM) (Schreiber 2002). Given these differences, more T4 available for cellular uptake likely comes from ALB-bound T4 in capillaries with fast moving blood but TTR-bound T4 is likely more important in slow moving fluid (like CSF)(Schrieber 2002).
Mammalian TTR has a greater affinity for T4 (and lower affinity for T3) in mammals relative to birds and reptiles, neither of which express a high-affinity TBG protein in serum (Schweizer and Kohrle 2013); while Larsson reported the presence of TTR (i.e. thyroxine-binding prealbumin) in all vertebrate species investigated and failed to detect the presence of TBG in cat, rabbit, rat, chicken, frog and salmon. Binding capacity of serum TTR in female rats is lower relative to males (Emerson et al 1990 in Zoeller et al 2007).
Alshehri, B., D’Souza, D. G., Lee, J. Y., Petratos, S., & Richardson, S. J. (2015). The Diversity of Mechanisms Influenced by Transthyretin in Neurobiology: Development, Disease and Endocrine Disruption. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 27(5), 303–323. http://doi.org/10.1111/jne.12271
Andrea et al. 1980
Blake et al 1978
Cao, J., Y. Lin, L.H. Guo, A.Q. Zhang, Y. Wei, and Y. Yang. 2010. Structure-based investigation on the binding interaction of hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers with thyroxine transport proteins. Toxicology 277(1-3):20-8.
Chauhan, K. R., Kodavanti, P. R. S., & McKinney, J. D. (2000). Assessing the Role of ortho-Substitution on Polychlorinated Biphenyl Binding to Transthyretin, a Thyroxine Transport Protein. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 162(1), 10–21. http://doi.org/10.1006/taap.1999.8826
Ferguson et al. 1975
Lans, M. C., Klasson-Wehler, E., Willemsen, M., Meussen, E., Safe, S., & Brouwer, A. (1993). STRUCTURE-DEPENDENT, COMPETITIVE INTERACTION OF HYDROXY-POLYCHLOROBIPHENYLS, -DIBENZO-p-DIOXINS AND -DIBENZOFURANS WITH HUMAN TRANSTHYRETIN. Chemico-Biological Interactions, 88, 7–21.
Lans, M. C., Spiertz, C., Brouwer, a, & Koeman, J. H. (1994). Different competition of thyroxine binding to transthyretin and thyroxine-binding globulin by hydroxy-PCBs, PCDDs and PCDFs. European Journal of Pharmacology, 270(2-3), 129–136. http://doi.org/10.1016/0926-6917(94)90054-X
Loubiere et al 2010
Ren, X. M., & Guo, L. H. (2012). Assessment of the binding of hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers to thyroid hormone transport proteins using a site-specific fluorescence probe. Environmental Science and Technology, 46(8), 4633–4640. http://doi.org/10.1021/es2046074
Richardson, S. J. (2007). Cell and molecular biology of transthyretin and thyroid hormones. International Review of Cytology, 258(January), 137–93. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0074-7696(07)58003-4
Schreiber, G. (2002). The evolutionary and integrative roles of transthyrein in thyroid hormone homeostasis. Journal of Endocrinology, 175(1), 61–73. http://doi.org/10.1677/joe.0.1750061
Schweizer and Kohrle 2013
Van den Berg, K. J. (1990). Interaction of chlorinated phenols with thyroxine binding sites of human transthyretin, albumin and thyroid binding globulin. Chemico-Biological Interactions, 76(1), 63–75. http://doi.org/10.1016/0009-2797(90)90034-K
Van den Berg, K. J., Van Raaij, J. a G. M., Bragt, P. C., & Notten, W. R. F. (1991). Interactions of halogenated industrial chemicals with transthyretin and effects on thyroid hormone levels in vivo. Archives of Toxicology, 65(1), 15–19. http://doi.org/10.1007/BF01973497
Weiss et al 2009
Weiss, J. M., Andersson, P. L., Zhang, J., Simon, E., Leonards, P. E. G., Hamers, T., & Lamoree, M. H. (2015). Tracing thyroid hormone-disrupting compounds: database compilation and structure-activity evaluation for an effect-directed analysis of sediment. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 5625–5634. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-015-8736-9