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

A toxicogenomics approach to identify new plausible epigenetic mechanisms of ochratoxin a carcinogenicity in rat.

Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a mycotoxin occurring naturally in a wide range of food commodities. In animals, it has been shown to cause a variety of adverse effects, nephrocarcinogenicity being the most prominent. Because of its high toxic potency and the continuous exposure of the human population, OTA has raised public health concerns. There is significant debate on how to use the rat carcinogenicity data to assess the potential risk to humans. In this context, the question of the mechanism of action of OTA appears of key importance and was studied through the application of a toxicogenomics approach. Male Fischer rats were fed OTA for up to 2 years. Renal tumors were discovered during the last 6 months of the study. The total tumor incidence reached 25% at the end of the study. Gene expression profile was analyzed in groups of animals taken in intervals from 7 days to 12 months. Tissue-specific responses were observed in kidney versus liver. For selected genes, microarray data were confirmed at both mRNA and protein levels. In kidney, several genes known as markers of kidney injury and cell regeneration were significantly modulated by OTA. The expression of genes known to be involved in DNA synthesis and repair, or genes induced as a result of DNA damage, was only marginally modulated. Very little or no effect was found amongst genes associated with apoptosis. Alterations of gene expression indicating effects on calcium homeostasis and a disruption of pathways regulated by the transcription factors hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha ( HNF4alpha) and nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 ( Nrf2) were observed in the kidney but not in the liver. Previous data have suggested that a reduction in HNF4alpha may be associated with nephrocarcinogenicity. Many Nrf2- regulated genes are involved in chemical detoxication and antioxidant defense. The depletion of these genes is likely to impair the defense potential of the cells, resulting in chronic elevation of oxidative stress in the kidney. The inhibition of defense mechanism appears as a highly plausible new mechanism, which could contribute to OTA carcinogenicity.[1]


  1. A toxicogenomics approach to identify new plausible epigenetic mechanisms of ochratoxin a carcinogenicity in rat. Marin-Kuan, M., Nestler, S., Verguet, C., Bezençon, C., Piguet, D., Mansourian, R., Holzwarth, J., Grigorov, M., Delatour, T., Mantle, P., Cavin, C., Schilter, B. Toxicol. Sci. (2006) [Pubmed]
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