Roles of NTE protein and encoding gene in development and neurodevelopmental toxicity

Miguel A. Sogorb, David Pamies, Carmen Estevan, Jorge Estévez, Eugenio Vilanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Neuropathy Target Esterase (NTE) is a membrane protein codified by gene PNPLA6. NTE was initially discovered as a target of the so-called organophosphorus-induced delayed polyneuropathy triggered by the inhibition of the NTE-associated esterase center by neuropathic organophosphorus compounds (OPs). The physiological role of NTE might be related to membrane lipid homeostasis and seems to be involved in adult organisms in maintaining nervous system integrity. However, NTE is also involved in cell differentiation and embryonic development. NTE is expressed in embryonic and adult stem cells, and the silencing of Pnpla6 by interference RNA in D3 mouse cells causes significant alterations in several genetic pathways related to respiratory tube and nervous system formation, and in vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. The silencing of gene PNPLA6 in human NT2 cells at the beginning of neurodifferentiation causes severe phenotypic alterations in neuron-like differentiated cells; e.g. reduced electrical activity and the virtual disappearance of markers of neural tissue, synapsis and glia. These phenotypic effects were not reproduced when NTE esterase activity was inhibited by neuropathic OP mipafox instead of being silenced at the genetic level. Neuropathic OP chlorpyrifos seems able to induce neurodevelopmental alterations in animals. However, the effects of chlorpyrifos in the expression of biomarker genes of differentiation in D3 cells differ considerably from the effects induced by Pnpla6 silencing. In conclusion, available information suggests that PNPLA6 and/or the NTE protein play a role in early neurodifferentiation stages, although this role is not dependent upon the esterase NTE center. Therefore, impairments caused by OPs, such as chlorpyrifos, on neurodevelopment are not due to inhibition of NTE esterase enzymatic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-357
Number of pages6
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
StatePublished - Nov 25 2016


  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Developmental toxicity
  • Differentiation
  • Neuropathy target esterase
  • Pnpla6
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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