Perfluoroalkyl Acid Binding with Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors α, γ, and δ, and Fatty Acid Binding Proteins by Equilibrium Dialysis with a Comparison of Methods

By Manoochehr Khazaee, Emerson Christie, Weixiao Cheng, Mandy Michalsen, Jennifer Field, and Carla Ng
March 9, 2021
DOI: 10.3390/toxics9030045

The biological impacts of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are linked to their protein interactions. Existing research has largely focused on serum albumin and liver fatty acid binding protein, and binding affinities determined with a variety of methods show high variability. Moreover, few data exist for short-chain PFAS, though their prevalence in the environment is increasing. We used molecular dynamics (MD) to screen PFAS binding to liver and intestinal fatty acid binding proteins (L- and I-FABPs) and peroxisome proliferator activated nuclear receptors (PPAR-α, -δ and -γ) with six perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (PFCAs) and three perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs). Equilibrium dissociation constants, Ks, were experimentally determined via equilibrium dialysis (EqD) with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry for protein-PFAS pairs. A comparison was made between Ks derived from EqD, both here and in literature, and other in vitro approaches (e.g., fluorescence) from literature. EqD indicated strong binding between PPAR-δ and perfluorobutanoate (0.044 ± 0.013 µM) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (0.035 ± 0.0020 µM), and between PPAR-α and perfluorohexanoate (0.097 ± 0.070 µM). Unlike binding affinities for L-FABP, which increase with chain length, Ks for PPARs showed little chain length dependence by either MD simulation or EqD. Compared with other in vitro approaches, EqD-based Ks consistently indicated higher affinity across different proteins. This is the first study to report PPARs binding with short-chain PFAS with Ks in the sub-micromolar range.

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