First Advisor

Kim H. Brown

Date of Publication

Spring 5-23-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Ethinyl estradiol -- Physiological effect, Gene expression, Endocrine disrupting chemicals in water, Zebra danio -- Effect of water pollution on, Rainbow trout -- Effect of water pollution on



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 95 pages)


Environmental toxicants are ubiquitous throughout the environment as a result of human activity. Among these toxicants, environmental estrogens are a category of particular concern due to their environmental prevalence and potency in altering reproductive traits. While many studies have addressed the detrimental effects of environmental estrogens on both aquatic and terrestrial organisms, few have analyzed the potential for these compounds to alter mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the primary energy-generating system for all eukaryotic life, supporting all aspects of development, metabolism, and growth. Each cell within the body contains many mitochondria which in turn contain multiple copies of their own DNA genome, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mutations in mtDNA are responsible for a wide range of human diseases such as metabolic syndromes, cancers, and obesity. Among these mitochondrial diseases many are characterized by increased levels of heteroplasmy, multiple mitochondrial DNA haplotypes within an individual. Increased heteroplasmy can alter normal mitochondrial function and influence disease initiation and progression.

To date, no studies have investigated the effects of synthetic estrogens on mitochondrial genome stability. Synthetic estrogens have the capacity to bind to estrogen receptors and initiate estrogenic responses through translocation into the mitochondrion. Despite our knowledge about the relationship of heteroplasmy and disease, we still do not have a complete grasp of the mechanisms of heteroplasmic induction. Here we report our analysis of the effects of 17α-ethynylestradiol (EE2) exposure in three studies to investigate its effect on mitochondrial genome stability. Data analysis reveals a statistically significant relationship between EE2 exposure and increased heteroplasmic frequency.


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