Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"CPIP: Genetic mechanisms of toxicity associated with exposure to the herbicide atrazine: implications in cancer risk. "

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Full-Year 2011 - CPIP
Research area(s):
molecular toxicology, endocrine disruption, cancer risk
Project Description:
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are exogenous agents that alter processes in the regulatory pathways of the endocrine system and can result in an imbalance in hormone production, release and transport from glands, disruption of binding to receptors and eventually lead to the development of a variety of diseases including cancer. Atrazine is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the Midwestern United States and is often reported to contaminant potable water supplies. Moreover, atrazine is a noted endocrine disruptor with evidence indicating that exposure can result in alterations of the reproductive system in females and males, as well as influencing cancer risk. While most EDCs operate through receptor-mediated processes, acting as mimetics of the hormones they disrupt, atrazine toxicity has been shown to be nonreceptor-mediated. The molecular mechanism by which atrazine exerts its toxic effects is therefore unique with respect to other endocrine disruptors and is not fully understood. In our laboratory, we are identifying the underlying genetic mechanisms associated with atrazine exposure. We are using the zebrafish vertebrate model system as a tool to investigate (1) the immediate effects of developmental exposure, (2) the lasting impacts of developmental exposure by assessment at later life stages, and (3) the epigenetic alterations associated with a developmental exposure in a multi-generation study. This study is providing further information pertinent to the continual evaluation of the risk of carcinogenicity associated with exposure to this herbicide.
Expected Student Contributions:
The student will actively participate in collecting and analyzing research data including genomics, targeted gene and protein expression, and morphological/histological endpoints.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
GPA greater than 3.0 and an interest in toxicology research.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 2 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Freeman, Jennifer
Health Sciences

Student Supervisor

Jennifer Freeman
Assistant Professor

Cooperating Faculty

Maria Sepulveda
Forestry and Natural Resources