The mycotoxin CTN (citrinin), a natural contaminant in foodstuffs and animal feeds, has cytotoxic and genotoxic effects on various mammalian cells. CTN is known to cause cell injury, including apoptosis, but the precise regulatory mechanisms of CTN action, particularly in stem cells and embryos, are currently unclear. In the present paper, I report that CTN has cytotoxic effects on mouse embryonic stem cells and blastocysts, and is associated with defects in their subsequent development, both in vitro and in vivo. Experiments in embryonic stem cells (ESC-B5) showed that CTN induces apoptosis via ROS (reactive oxygen species) generation, increased Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, loss of MMP (mitochondrial membrane potential), induction of cytochrome c release, and activation of caspase 3. In this model, CTN triggers cell death via inactivation of the HSP90 [a 90 kDa isoform of the HSP (heat-shock protein) family proteins]/multichaperone complex and subsequent degradation of Ras and Raf-1, further inhibiting anti-apoptotic processes, such as the Ras→ERK (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase) signal transduction pathway. In addition, CTN causes early developmental injury in mouse ESCs and blastocysts in vitro. Lastly, using an in vivo mouse model, I show that consumption of drinking water containing 10 μM CTN results in blastocyst apoptosis and early embryonic developmental injury. Collectively, these findings show for the first time that CTN induces ROS and mitochondria-dependent apoptotic processes, inhibits Ras→ERK survival signalling via inactivation of the HSP90/multichaperone complex, and causes developmental injury in vivo.

You do not currently have access to this content.