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Tox21-Based Comparative Analyses for the Identification of Potential Toxic Effects of Environmental Pollutants

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posted on 2022-09-30, 12:37 authored by Renjun Yang, Shuyu Liu, Nuoya Yin, Yang Zhang, Francesco Faiola
Chemical pollution has become a prominent environmental problem. In recent years, quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) assays have been developed for the fast assessment of chemicals’ toxic effects. Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) is a well-known and continuously developing qHTS project. Recent reports utilizing Tox21 data have mainly focused on setting up mathematical models for in vivo toxicity predictions, with less attention to intuitive qHTS data visualization. In this study, we attempted to reveal and summarize the toxic effects of environmental pollutants by analyzing and visualizing Tox21 qHTS data. Via PubMed text mining, toxicity/structure clustering, and manual classification, we detected a total of 158 chemicals of environmental concern (COECs) from the Tox21 library that we classified into 13 COEC groups based on structure and activity similarities. By visualizing these COEC groups’ bioactivities, we demonstrated that COECs frequently displayed androgen and progesterone antagonistic effects, xenobiotic receptor agonistic roles, and mitochondrial toxicity. We also revealed many other potential targets of the 13 COEC groups, which were not well illustrated yet, and that current Tox21 assays may not correctly classify known teratogens. In conclusion, we provide a feasible method to intuitively understand qHTS data.

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