We report an efficient screening procedure for the selective detection of compounds that are actively bound to estrogen receptor (ER) from environmental water samples using a receptor-mimic adsorbent prepared by a molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP). To mimic the recognition ability of ER, we improved the typical MIP preparation procedure using a hydrophilic matrix with a polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based crosslinker and a hydrophobic monomer to imitate the hydrophobic pocket of ER. An optimized MIP prepared with methacrylic acid as an additional functional monomer and estriol (E3), an analogue of 17β-estradiol (E2), exhibited highly selective adsorption for ER-active compounds such as E2 and E3, with significant suppression of non-specific hydrophobic adsorption. The prepared MIP was then applied to the screening of ER-active compounds in sewage samples. The fraction concentrated by the MIP was evaluated by in vitro bioassay using the yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) method and liquid chromatography–quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC–Q-TOFMS). Compared to an authentic adsorbent, styrene–divinylbenzene (SDB)-based resin, the fraction concentrated by the MIP had 120% ER activity in the Y2H assay, and only 25% peak volume was detected in LC–Q-TOFMS. Furthermore, a few ER-active compounds were identified only from the fraction concentrated by the MIP, although they could not be determined in the fraction concentrated by the SDB-based resin due to ion suppression along with high levels of hydrophobic compounds. These results indicated that the newly developed MIP effectively captured ER-active compounds and while allowing most non–ER-active compounds to pass through.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis