Comparison on the molecular response profiles between nano zinc oxide (ZnO) particles and free zinc ion using a genome-wide toxicogenomics approach.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2015 Nov; 22(22):17434-42.ES
Increasing production and applications of nano zinc oxide particles (nano-ZnO) enhances the probability of its exposure in occupational and environmental settings, but toxicity studies are still limited. Taking the free Zn ion (Zn(2+)) as a control, cytotoxicity of a commercially available nano-ZnO was assessed with a 6-h exposure in Escherichia coli (E. coli). The fitted dose-cytotoxicity curve for ZnCl2 was significantly sharper than that from nano-ZnO. Then, a genome-wide gene expression profile following exposure to nano-ZnO was conducted by use of a live cell reporter assay system with library of 1820 modified green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing promoter reporter vectors constructed from E. coli K12 strains, which resulted in 387 significantly altered genes in bacterial (p < 0.001). These altered genes were enriched into ten biological processing and two cell components (p < 0.05) terms through statistical hypergeometric testing, strongly suggesting that exposure to nano-ZnO would result a great disturbance on the functional gene product synthesis processing, such as translation, gene expression, RNA modification, and structural constituent of ribosome. The pattern of expression of 37 genes altered by nano-ZnO (fold change>2) was different from the profile following exposure to 6 mg/L of free zinc ion. The result indicates that these two Zn forms might cause toxicity to bacterial in different modes of action. Our results underscore the importance of understanding the adverse effects elicited by nano-ZnO after entering aquatic environment.