Chemical communication threatened by endocrine-disrupting chemicals.


Communication on a cellular level--defined as chemical signaling, sensing, and response--is an essential and universal component of all living organisms and the framework that unites all ecosystems. Evolutionarily conserved signaling "webs," existing both within an organism and between organisms, rely on efficient and accurate interpretation of chemical signals by receptors. Therefore, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which have been shown to disrupt hormone signaling in laboratory animals and exposed wildlife, may have broader implications for disrupting signaling webs that have yet to be identified as possible targets. In this article, I explore common evolutionary themes of chemical signaling (e.g., estrogen signaling in vertebrates and phytoestrogen signaling from plants to symbiotic soil bacteria) and show that such signaling systems are targets of disruption by EDCs. Recent evolutionary phylogenetic data have shown that the estrogen receptor (ER) is the ancestral receptor from which all other steroid receptors have evolved. In addition to binding endogenous estrogens, ERs also bind phytoestrogens, an ability shared in common with nodulation D protein (NodD) receptors found in Rhizobium soil bacteria. Recent data have shown that many of the same synthetic and natural environmental chemicals that disrupt endocrine signaling in vertebrates also disrupt phytoestrogen-NodD receptor signaling in soil bacteria, which is necessary for nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. Bacteria-plant symbiosis is an unexpected target of EDCs, and other unexpected nontarget species may also be vulnerable to EDCs found in the environment.

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@article{Fox2004ChemicalCT, title={Chemical communication threatened by endocrine-disrupting chemicals.}, author={Jennifer E. Fox}, journal={Environmental Health Perspectives}, year={2004}, volume={112}, pages={648 - 653} }