An estrogen‐inducible screen was developed in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) in order to assess whether surfactants and their major degradation products are estrogenic. The DNA sequence of the human estrogen receptor (hER) was integrated into the yeast genome, which also contained expression plasmids carrying estrogen‐responsive sequences (ERE) controlling the expression of the reporter gene lac‐Z (encoding the enzyme β‐galactosidase). Thus, in the presence of estrogens, β‐galactosidase is synthesized and secreted into the medium, where it causes a color change from yellow to red. This recombinant strain was used to determine whether representatives of major surfactant classes and some of their principal degradation products possess estrogenic activity. The results were compared to the effects of the main natural estrogen 17β‐estradiol. None of the parent surfactants tested possessed estrogenic activity. However, one class of surfactants, the alkylphenol polyethoxylates, degrade to persistent metabolites that were weakly estrogenic. Another group of degradation products, the sulfophenyl carboxylates, which are derived from the biodegradation of linear alkylbenzene sulfonates, do not appear to possess estrogenic activity.
Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1996
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