Paraoxonases: Biomarkers of Susceptibility to Environmentally-induced Diseases
The overall aim of our project is to investigate various aspects of the functions and roles of three paraoxonases (PON1, PON2, and PON3) in determining susceptibility to environmentally-induced neurotoxicity and neurodegenerative diseases, with the goal of increasing confidence in their use as reliable markers of susceptibility for use in molecular epidemiology studies.
Parkinsonism and Metal Exposures Among Welders
Many thousands of workers are engaged in either full- or part-time welding. One of the suspectedhealth hazards of welding exposures, especially meatls, is parkinsonism, which is an uncurable neurological disorder that impairs movement. This project will investigate whether manganese and other metals that occur inwelding fumes increase the risk and severity of parkinsonism in professional shipyard welders. Our findings have good promise for shedding light on metals as possible causes of parkinsonism, and may therefore provide valuable information needed for disease prevention.
Plasma Biomarkers for Parkinsonism in Welders
Although precise underlying mechanisms remain to be defined, it appears that environmental exposure plays an essential role in disease development of Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (iPD). It remains controversial as to whether manganese (or heavy metals in general) relate to iPD. One of the major goals for this project is to discern whether the unique biological markers identified thus can differentiate Parkinsonism in welders exposed to a mixture of heavy metals from those with iPD.
Biotransformation Gene-environment Interactions in Coho Salmon Neurotoxicity
The relationship among environmental chemical exposures and molecular and biochemical pathways that affect chemical neurotoxicity in the olfactory system of salmon is of key interest in our study. Our findings should help us understand how environmental chemicals disrupt olfactory function and impact salmon behaviors that are critical to salmon survival. Ultimately, when we understand these mechanisms, and also identify the sensitive target cells involved in pollution-induced olfactory injury, we can use cellular-based biomarkers to identify problematic polluted sites, and fish at risk to neurotoxic injury. We are directing these efforts toward understanding environmental effects of Superfund chemical exposures in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.
Phytoremediation of Pollutants Using Transgenic Plants
Toxic organic compounds such as chloroform, trichloroethylene, and benzene are among the most common contaminants in water and air, and organophosphorus compounds are important neurotoxins. Phytoremediation, the degradation of toxic compounds by plants, promises to provide an inexpensive and non-intrusive method for reducing human exposure, if plant degradation activity can be increased significantly, as can be accomplished by genetically modifying selected plants with detoxifying genes.