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Postchronic Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Exposure Causes Irreversible Malignant Transformation of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells through DNA Methylation Changes

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journal contribution
posted on 25.03.2021, 04:03 by Jin Wang, Xin Tian, Jie Zhang, Lirong Tan, Nan Ouyang, Beibei Jia, Chunying Chen, Cuicui Ge, Jianxiang Li
As environmental pollutants and possible carcinogens, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have recently been found to induce carcinogenesis and tumor metastasis after long-term pulmonary exposure. However, whether CNT-induced carcinogenesis can be inherited and last for generations remains unclear. Herein, postchronic single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) exposed human lung cell model (BEAS-2B cells) are established to investigate SWCNT-induced carcinogenesis. At a tolerated sublethal dose level, postchronic SWCNT exposure significantly increases the migration and invasion abilities of BEAS-2B cells, leading to malignant cell transformation. Notably, the malignant transformation of BEAS-2B cells is irreversible within a 60 day recovery period after SWCNT exposure, and the malignant transformation activities of cells gradually increase during the recovery period. Moreover, these transformed cells promote carcinogenesis in vivo, accompanied by a raised level of biomarkers of lung adenocarcinoma. Further mechanism analyses reveal that postchronic exposure to SWCNTs causes substantial DNA methylation and transcriptome dysregulation of BEAS-2B cells. Subsequent enrichment and clinical database analyses reveal that differentially expressed/methylated genes of BEAS-2B cells are enriched in cancer-related biological pathways. These results not only demonstrate that postchronic SWCNT-exposure-induced carcinogenesis is heritable but also uncover a mechanism from the perspective of DNA methylation.