Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Protein Baggage: Toxicity of Organotin Tied to Proteasome Interference

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Protein Baggage: Toxicity of Organotin Tied to Proteasome Interference

Article excerpt

Organotins have been widely used as agricultural pesticides, antifungal agents, polyvinyl chloride stabilizers, industrial catalysts, and antifouling additives in boat paints. These tin-based chemicals, which have been detected in various environmental media, are lipophilic and thus capable of becoming increasingly concentrated as they pass up the food chain. A new study suggests that the toxic effects of organotins on living cells are mediated in part by inhibiting the function of the proteasome, a molecular structure that degrades unneeded or damaged proteins [EHP 117:379-386; Shi et al.].

In eukaryotic organisms (animals, plants, fungi, algae, and plankton), more than 80% of intracellular proteins are degraded through the proteasome-mediated pathway. By interfering with proteasome function, organotins enable proteins to accumulate inappropriately. Because normal immune function and many cellular processes depend on the proteasome pathway, the organotin-proteasome interaction could help explain some of the adverse health effects of organotins--notably endocrine disruption, infertility, and immune dysfunction--that have been observed in wildlife and in animal studies. In addition, human exposure to organotins has been proposed as a possible risk factor for cancer (by inhibiting the cytotoxic function of natural killer cells), neurotoxicity, obesity, allergies, asthma, and altered reproductive development. …

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