Identification by DNA macroarray of nur77 as a gene induced by di-n-butyltin dichloride: its role in organotin-induced apoptosis

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2002 May 15;181(1):27-31. doi: 10.1006/taap.2002.9357.


The thymotoxic organotin compounds di-n-butyltin dichloride (DBTC) and tri-n-butyltin chloride (TBTC) are known to induce apoptosis in vitro in rat thymocytes. They also affect macromolecular synthesis, inhibiting DNA synthesis and increasing RNA synthesis. Since these RNA molecules, likely to be involved in the initiation of the apoptotic process, have not been identified yet, the purpose of this research was to characterize by a cDNA macroarray the expression of genes involved in DBTC-induced apoptosis. We found that nur77 was rapidly transcripted in vitro following exposure of freshly isolated rat thymocytes to 3 microM DBTC. nur77 induction has also been observed in vivo after treatment of rats with apoptotic doses (60 mg/kg body wt) of DBTC. The products of nur77 are known to be involved in the apoptotic process, as nur77 is a transcription factor expressed in response to T-cell receptor-mediated apoptosis in immature T cells. Antisense oligonucleotide inhibition of nur77 expression prevented apoptosis induced by DBTC, supporting a role for nur77 in organotin-induced apoptotic cell death.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 4, Group A, Member 1
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization / methods
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology
  • Organotin Compounds / toxicity*
  • RNA / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects
  • Thymus Gland / pathology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nr4a1 protein, rat
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 4, Group A, Member 1
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • Organotin Compounds
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Transcription Factors
  • di-n-butyltin
  • RNA