Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Poison Control

On my desktop today is a paper from Muniz Ortiz et al. (2009) Investigating Arsenic Susceptibility from a Genetic Perspective in Drosophila Reveals a Key Role for Glutathione Synthetase. Toxilogical Sciences 107(2), 416–426. PubMed ID 18779381.

Among other things, the authors present evidence that RNAi-based knockdown of glutathione synthetase (GS) in S2 cells enhances cell sensitivity to arsenite. Raising the question in my mind, Could other factors in the pathway be revealed in a genome-scale RNAi screen?  

But why do we care? The authors point out that arsenic is a contaminant of drinking water. And different human populations (and the authors show, different Drosophila populations) respond differently to various levels of contamination, suggesting a genetic link to sensitivity. 

Thus, gaining a better understanding of genetic links to arsenite sensitivity may have important implications for water policy decisions and human health.

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