Wirbisky-Hershberger SE, Sanchez OF, Horzmann KA, Thanki D, Yuan C, Freeman JL. 2017. Atrazine exposure decreases the activity of DNMTs, global DNA methylation levels, and dnmt expression. Food Chem Toxicol 109:727–734.
Atrazine, a herbicide used on agricultural crops is widely applied in the Midwestern United States as well as other areas of the globe. Atrazine frequently contaminates potable water supplies and is a suspected endocrine disrupting chemical. Previous studies have reported morphological, hormonal, and molecular alterations due to developmental and adulthood atrazine exposure; however, studies examining epigenetic alterations are limited. In this study, the effects of atrazine exposure on DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) activity and kinetics were evaluated. Global DNA methylation levels and dnmt expression in zebrafish larvae exposed to 0, 3, or 30 parts per billion (ppb) atrazine throughout embryogenesis was then assessed. Results indicate that atrazine significantly decreased the activity of maintenance DNMTs and that the inhibition mechanism can be described using non-competitive Michaelis-Menten kinetics. Furthermore, results show that an embryonic atrazine exposure decreases global methylation levels and the expression of dnmt4 and dnmt5. These findings indicate that atrazine exposure can decrease the expression and activity of DNMTs, leading to decreased DNA methylation levels.