At a lecture organized by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) on April 14, 2014 Joseph Thornton, professor at the University of Chicago presented his research on “The evolutionary history of steroid hormone receptors”. The researchers led by Thornton investigate the responsiveness of primitive organism’s genes to hormones. Based on this information they developed a diagram showing evolutionary relationships among species. In the lecture Thornton argued that understanding the selectivity of hormone receptors from an evolutionary perspective informs the research on endocrine disruption in an important manner. According to his research the first hormone receptor was an estrogen receptor and evolved around 450 million years ago.  Hormone receptors are only as selective as necessary, and a missing evolutionary pressure led hormone receptors to lack specificity, according to Thornton. This explains why hormone receptors are so responsive to a variety of environmental toxicants, Thornton concluded in the lecture.

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Robin Arnette (May 1, 2014) “Falk lecture provides evolutionary insights into endocrine disruption.Environmental Factor, May 2014.