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Toxicol Sci. 2011 Aug;122(2):448-56. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfr133. Epub 2011 May 20.

Epigenetic mechanisms of mouse interstrain variability in genotoxicity of the environmental toxicant 1,3-butadiene.

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  • 1Division of Biochemical Toxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, Arkansas 72079, USA.


1,3-Butadiene (BD) is a common environmental contaminant classified as "carcinogenic to humans." Formation of BD-induced DNA adducts plays a major role in its carcinogenicity. BD is also an epigenotoxic agent (i.e., it affects DNA and histone methylation in the liver). We used a panel of genetically diverse inbred mice (NOD/LtJ, CAST/EiJ, A/J, WSB/EiJ, PWK/PhJ, C57BL/6J, and 129S1/SvImJ) to assess whether BD-induced genotoxic and epigenotoxic events may be subject to interstrain differences. Mice (male, 7 weeks) were exposed via inhalation to 0 or 625 ppm BD for 6 h/day and 5 days/week for 2 weeks and liver BD-DNA adducts, epigenetic alterations, and liver toxicity were assessed. N-7-(2,3,4-trihydroxybut-1-yl)-guanine adducts were detected in all strains after exposure, yet BD-induced DNA damage in CAST/EiJ mice was two to three times lower. Epigenetic effects of BD were most prominent in C57BL/6J mice where loss of global DNA methylation and loss of trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 9, histone H3 lysine 27, and histone H4 lysine 20, accompanied by dysregulation of liver gene expression indicative of hepatotoxicity, were found. Interestingly, we observed an increase in histone methylation in the absence of changes in gene expression and DNA methylation in CAST/EiJ strain. We hypothesized that mitigated genotoxicity of BD in CAST/EiJ mice may be due to chromatin condensation. Indeed, we show that in response to BD exposure, chromatin condensation occurs in CAST/EiJ, whereas the opposite effect is observed in C57BL/6J mice. These findings demonstrate that interstrain susceptibility to genotoxicity by a well-known environmental carcinogen may be due to strain-specific epigenetic events in response to the exposure.

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