Separation and identification of hormone-active compounds using a combination of chromatographic separation and yeast-based reporter assay

Alexandre Chamas, Ha Thi Minh Pham, Martin Jähne, Karina Hettwer, Linda Gehrmann, JochenTuerk, Steffen Uhlig, Kirsten Simon, Kim Baronian, Gotthard Kunze

Arxula adeninivorans-based yeast cell assays for the detection of steroid hormones demonstrated their efficiency for the determination of total hormone activity in a variety of samples using a microtiter plate format. In this study, a preliminary chromatographic separation using thin-layer chromatography plates is introduced in order to allow a rapid identification of the compounds responsible for this hormonal activity. The yeast whole cell assay can then be performed on the plate, producing a detectable signal where a steroid hormone is present. Simultaneous detection of estrogens, progestogens and androgens on the same plate in the picogram range was achieved, while keeping the assay as simple and affordable as possible. The assay requires a single incubation of the thin-layer chromatography plate and the detection of reporter protein production can be performed by fluorescence scanning of the plate at different wavelengths. The chromatographic separation allows the separation of several estrogens, androgens and progestogens, thus making its application for ‘real world’ samples very useful. In this work, different water-based samples from environmental origins were used to demonstrate the capacity of this new bioassay. Trials showed that most samples, with the exception of complex samples such as wastewater influent, can be assayed.
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