A diverse set of 60 haloaliphatic compounds were evaluated for reactivity with cysteine thiol groups in the previously described RC(50) assay using glutathione (GSH) as a model nucleophile. Reactivity was quantified by the RC(50) value, the concentration of test compound that produced 50% reaction of the GSH thiol groups in 120 min. Under standard conditions, RC(50) values are mathematically proportional to reciprocal rate constants. Quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis correlating acute aquatic toxicity (IGC(50)) to Tetrahymena pyriformis with RC(50) values was carried out. It was found that subdivision of the compounds into subdomains according to their reaction mechanism characteristics enabled toxicity-reactivity relationships to be identified. The largest subdomain consisting of 22 compounds in which a primary halogen is alpha to a carbonyl or other electronegative unsaturated group and which can be confidently assigned as S(N)2 electrophiles fits the equation pIGC(50) (mM) = 0.94 (+/-0.07) pRC(50) (mM) + 1.34 (+/-0.07), n = 22, r(2) = 0.889, r(2)(adj) = 0.884, s = 0.27, and F = 161. Compounds in which the halogen is not alpha to an unsaturated group are not reactive in the GSH assay and do not exhibit reactive toxicity to T. pyriformis. Compounds tested in which the halogen is alpha to an unsaturated nonelectronegative group were found to be less toxic in the assay than predicted by the above QSAR equation. Within a subdomain of 21 compounds having a halogen alpha to an electronegative unsaturated group that, in the absence of experimental evidence, could not be confidently assigned as S(N)2 electrophiles, 2-bromoalkanoates of general structure R(1)CHBrCO(2)R(2), 2-bromopropionamide, and 2-haloalkanoic acids of general formula R(1)CHXCO(2)H (nine compounds in total) are all well-predicted by the above equation. Of the other 12 compounds of this subdomain, eight are substantially less toxic than predicted by the above equation and are considered to react differently, whereas the alpha-halonitriles (four compounds) are more toxic than predicted and fit a correlation of their own: pIGC(50) = 1.01 (+/-0.05) pRC(50) + 2.04 (+/-0.05), n = 4, r(2) = 0.995, r(2)(adj) = 0.992, s = 0.08, and F = 381, with a similar slope but larger intercept. An explanation in terms of their physical chemistry and possible involvement of released cyanide ion is suggested.
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