Effects of lead on gene expression

Neurotoxicology. 2000 Dec;21(6):1045-55.


Lead poisoning is a worldwide, environmental health-hazard that affects children and adults. In this review we discuss the effects of lead on gene expression due to both general and specific mechanisms. In particular we focus on the ability of lead to substitute for biologically essential metals such as calcium and zinc in metal-binding domains of cytoplasmic enzymes, nuclear transcription factors and other proteins. The binding of lead to these proteins causes an alteration of their activity resulting in aberrant expression of their own genes and in some cases their target genes. Finally, we discuss the impact of microarray technology on the study of the genome-wide effects of lead and other toxicants on gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / drug effects
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Lead / toxicity*
  • Zinc / physiology


  • Lead
  • Zinc