Transcriptomics analysis of primary mouse thymocytes exposed to bis(tri-n-butyltin)dioxide (TBTO)

S.W.M. Kol, P.J.M. Hendriksen, H. van Loveren, A.A.C.M. Peijnenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The biocide bis(tri-n-butyltin)oxide (TBTO) causes thymus atrophy in rodents and is toxic to many cell types of which thymocytes are the most sensitive. To obtain insight in the mechanisms of action of TBTO, we exposed primary mouse thymocytes in vitro for 3, 6 and 11 h to 0.1, 0.5, 1 and 2 M TBTO. Subsequently, the cells were subjected to whole-genome gene expression profiling. Biological interpretation of the gene expression data revealed that TBTO affects a wide range of processes. Cell proliferation related genes were downregulated by all treatments except for 3 and 6 h 0.5 M TBTO which upregulated these genes. Treatment with TBTO resulted in upregulation of genes involved in endoplasmatic reticulum (ER) stress, NFkB and TNF pathways, and genes involved in DNA damage, p53 signaling and apoptosis. Remarkably, TBTO also increased the expression of genes that are known to be upregulated during T cell activation or during negative selection of thymocytes. The effect of TBTO on expression of genes involved in ER stress and apoptosis was confirmed by qPCR. Induction of the T cell activation response was corroborated by demonstrating that TBTO exposure resulted in translocation of NFAT to the nucleus, which is an essential event for T cell activation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-47
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • unfolded protein response
  • human cell-cycle
  • tri-n-butyltin
  • endoplasmic-reticulum
  • negative selection
  • rat thymocytes
  • in-vitro
  • thymus atrophy
  • cytochrome-c
  • kappa-b


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