The dihalo and trihalophenols, and phenols containing both halo and nitro substituents in the same molecule, produce, in fertilized eggs of Arbacia punctulata, a rise in rate of oxygen consumption and a reversible block to cell division. To define the conditions which affect the degree of this activity, the following factors have been varied: the arrangement of substituents in the molecule, the concentration of reagent, and the time after fertilization at which the reagent is added.
The stimulation of oxygen consumption and reversible block to cell division produced by the dihalophenols are qualitatively the same as those previously produced in fertilized Arbacia eggs by certain dinitrophenols. To yield optimum respiratory effect and maximum division block, it usually requires a higher concentration of dihalo than of the corresponding dinitrophenol. For example, with fertilized Arbacia eggs at 20°C. 2,4-dinitrophenol, in optimum concentration of 3 x 10–5 molar, raises oxygen consumption to 292 per cent of normal (4). The corresponding values for two dihalo analogues are: 2,4-dichlorophenol, 10–4 molar and 236 per cent; 2,4-dibromophenol, 6 x 10–5 molar and 282 per cent.
The halophenols differ from the nitrophenols in two interesting respects: (a) The monohalophenols produce little or no oxidative stimulation or division block in fertilized Arbacia eggs; p-nitrophenol is very active in both respects. (b) The symmetrical trihalophenols have an appreciable ability to stimulate oxygen consumption and block division; symmetrical trinitrophenol is inactive in both respects (4).
The increases in oxygen consumption produced in fertilized Arbacia eggs by 2,4-dichloro and 2,4-dinitrophenol are larger than the percentage increases given by methylene blue and o-cresol indophenol under the same experimental conditions. The dihalo and dinitrophenols produce a reversible block to the cell division of fertilized marine eggs. The oxidation-reduction indicators, in contrast to the dihalo and dinitrophenols, block cell division irreversibly and fertilized eggs of Arbacia do not recover from optimum respiratory stimulating concentrations of these oxidation-reduction dyes.
The present experiments with halophenols are in harmony with and lend considerable support to the hypothesis (4) that nitro and similarly substituted phenols derive their biological activity from the presence and properties of the phenolic OH group, as modified by proper substitution in the phenolic benzene ring.