DNA methylation changes from primary cultures through senescence-bypassin Syrian hamster fetal cells initially exposed to benzo[a]pyrene.

Desaulniers D. et al.

Current chemical testing strategies are limited in their ability to detect non-genotoxic carcinogens (NGTxC). Epigenetic anomalies develop during carcinogenesis regardless of whether the molecular initiating event is associated with genotoxic (GTxC) or NGTxC events; therefore, epigenetic markers may be harnessed to develop new approach methodologies that improve the detection of both types of carcinogens. This study used Syrian hamster fetal cells to establish the chronology of carcinogen-induced DNA methylation changes from primary cells until senescence-bypass as an essential carcinogenic step. Cells exposed to solvent control for 7 days were compared to naïve primary cultures, to cells exposed for 7 days to benzo[a]pyrene, and to cells at the subsequent transformation stages: normal colonies, morphologically transformed colonies, senescence, senescence-bypass, and sustained proliferation in vitro. DNA methylation changes identified by reduced representation bisulphite sequencing were minimal at day-7. Profound DNA methylation changes arose during cellular senescence and some of these early differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were preserved through the final sustained proliferation stage. A set of these DMRs (e.g., Pou4f1, Aifm3, B3galnt2, Bhlhe22, Gja8, Klf17, and L1l) were validated by pyrosequencing and their reproducibility was confirmed across multiple clones obtained from a different laboratory. These DNA methylation changes could serve as biomarkers to enhance objectivity and mechanistic understanding of cell transformation and could be used to predict senescence-bypass and chemical carcinogenicity.

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March, 2023


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