Zearalenone (ZEN) is a mycotoxin produced by Fusarium species. ZEN mainly appears in cereals and related foodstuffs, causing reproductive disorders in animals, due to its xenoestrogenic effects. The main reduced metabolites of ZEN are α-zearalenol (α-ZEL) and β-zearalenol (β-ZEL). Similarly to ZEN, ZELs can also activate estrogen receptors; moreover, α-ZEL is the most potent endocrine disruptor among these three compounds. Serum albumin is the most abundant plasma protein in the circulation; it affects the tissue distribution and elimination of several drugs and xenobiotics. Although ZEN binds to albumin with high affinity, albumin-binding of α-ZEL and β-ZEL has not been investigated. In this study, the complex formation of ZEN, α-ZEL, and β-ZEL with human (HSA), bovine (BSA), porcine (PSA), and rat serum albumins (RSA) was investigated by fluorescence spectroscopy, affinity chromatography, thermodynamic studies, and molecular modeling. Our main observations are as follows: (1) ZEN binds with higher affinity to albumins than α-ZEL and β-ZEL. (2) The low binding affinity of β-ZEL toward albumin may result from its different binding position or binding site. (3) The binding constants of the mycotoxin-albumin complexes significantly vary with the species. (4) From the thermodynamic point of view, the formation of ZEN-HSA and ZEN-RSA complexes are similar, while the formation of ZEN-BSA and ZEN-PSA complexes are markedly different. These results suggest that the toxicological relevance of ZEN-albumin and ZEL-albumin interactions may also be species-dependent.
Zearalenone Zearalenols Serum albumin Species-dependent alternations Fluorescence spectroscopy
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This project was supported by the János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (M.P.). M.P. is thankful for support of the University of Pécs for grant in the frame of Pharmaceutical Talent Centre program. This work was supported by the GINOP-2.3.2-15-2016-00049 grant. We acknowledge a grant of computer time from CSCS Swiss National Supercomputing Centre, and NIIF Hungarian National Information Infrastructure Development Institute. We acknowledge that the results of this research have been achieved using the DECI resource Archer based in the UK at the National Supercomputing Service with support from the PRACE aisbl. M.B. and C.H. are thankful to the University of Pécs for the grant in the frame of “Supporting Individual Research and Innovation Activity of Young Researchers, 2018” program.
Source of funding
This project was supported by the Hungarian National Research, Development and Innovation Office (FK125166) (M.P.). The work of M.B. and C.H. is supported by the Hungarian National Research, Development and Innovation Office (K123836).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest. We have full control of all primary data and we agree to allow the journal to review our data if requested.
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