Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2016

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Human Toxicology

First Advisor

Gabriele Ludewig


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are persistent environmental chemicals. Mono-hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (OH-PCBs) are PCB metabolites found commonly in human blood, environmental water and sediment samples. Detection of small amounts of PCBs and their OH-PCB metabolites in biological matrices from epidemiological and laboratory studies remains a challenge.

The application of aptamers is studied as a means to identify and quantify PCBs and OH-PCBs. Aptamers are single stranded short oligonucleotides that arrange into unique shape of three-dimensional structures when binding to their target. Like antibodies they have high affinity and specificity for their specific target. The hypothesis is that aptamers can identify PCBs and PCB metabolites in environmental and biological samples. To test this hypothesis, three different OH-PCBs, 4’-OH-PCB3, 4-OH-PCB72 and 2-OH-PCB106 along with 4-OH-biphenyl as a control, were covalently attached to beads with carboxylic acid groups on their surface. Several methods were explored to characterize covalent binding of OH-PCBs to the beads: FTIR-spectroscopy, Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) and Zeta-Potential (ZP) measurements. The beads were then used in in vitro assays to test binding of two different aptamers specific to OH-PCBs. In this study, these aptamers were tested for the ability to distinguish structurally different OH-PCB congeners and other environmental pollutants.

In future studies, aptamers can be selected for a PCB metabolite of interest, 4’-OH-PCB3, via a modified form of Systemic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment (SELEX). Single stranded DNA (ssDNA) aptamers generated will be applied as a biosensor for the detection and quantification of traces of 4’-OH-PCB3.


Aptamers, Biosensors, Metabolites of PCBs, Methods of detection, OH-PCBs


ix, 77 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 71-77).


Copyright © 2016 Marisa Genevive Salomon Beltran

Included in

Toxicology Commons