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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Biochemical basis for the extreme sensitivity of turkeys to aflatoxin B(1).

Poultry are the most susceptible food animal species to the toxic effects of the mycotoxin aflatoxin B(1) (AFB(1)). Feed contaminated with even small amounts of AFB(1) results in significant adverse health effects in poultry. The purpose of this study was to explain the biochemical mechanism(s) for this extreme sensitivity. We measured microsomal activation of AFB(1) to the AFB(1)-8,9-epoxide (AFBO), the putative toxic intermediate, as well as cytosolic glutathione S-transferase (GST)-mediated detoxification of AFBO, in addition to other hepatic phase I and phase II enzyme activities, in 3-week-old male Oorlop strain turkeys. Liver microsomes prepared from these turkeys activated AFB(1) in vitro with an apparent K(m) of 109 microM and a V(max) of 1.25 nmol/mg/min. Preliminary evidence for the involvement of cytochromes P450 (CYP) 1A2 and, to a lesser extent, 3A4 for AFB(1) activation was assessed by the use of specific mammalian CYP inhibitors. The possible presence of avian orthologues of these CYPs was supported by activity toward ethoxyresorufin and nifedipine, as well as by Western immunoblotting using antibodies to human CYPs. Cytosol prepared from turkey livers exhibited GST-mediated conjugation of 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene (CDNB) and 3,4-dichloronitrobenzene (DCNB), but at a much lower rate than that observed in other species. Western immunoblotting indicated the presence of alpha and varsigma class GSTs and another AFB(1)-detoxifying enzyme, AFB(1)-aldehyde reductase (AFAR). Turkey liver cytosol also had quinone oxidoreductase ( QOR) activity. Importantly, cytosol exhibited no measurable GST-mediated detoxification of microsomally activated AFB(1), indicating that turkeys are deficient in the most crucial AFB(1)-detoxification pathway. In total, our data indicate that the extreme sensitivity of turkeys to AFB(1) may be attributed to a combination of efficient AFB(1) activation and deficient detoxification by phase II enzymes, such as GSTs.[1]


  1. Biochemical basis for the extreme sensitivity of turkeys to aflatoxin B(1). Klein, P.J., Buckner, R., Kelly, J., Coulombe, R.A. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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