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Arch Toxicol. 2015 Mar;89(3):451-8. doi: 10.1007/s00204-014-1269-8. Epub 2014 May 22.

Benzo(a)pyrene promotes A549 cell migration and invasion through up-regulating Twist.

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Department of Toxicology, Henan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Zhengzhou, 450016, People's Republic of China,


Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is one of the strongest carcinogens in cigarette smoke, which is an established human carcinogen. Twist, a transcription factor of the basic helix-loop-helix class, is reported to regulate lung cancer metastasis. Evidence has shown that BaP could induce Twist mRNA expression in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line A549 and promote lung adenocarcinoma cell invasion. However, it is unclear whether BaP promotes the migration and invasion of NSCLC cells by Twist modulation. A549 cell was exposed to BaP for different time. MTT assay was applied to assess cell proliferation. Silencing of Twist was done by small interfering RNA. Wound-healing assay was used to evaluate the capability of cell migration. Transwell assay was used to detect the capability of cell invasion. Western blotting and quantitative polymerase chain reaction were used to detect Twist expression. The levels of Twist protein expression and mRNA expression were increased with the treatment of BaP, compared with solvent control. The capability of wound healing of A549 cells was increased in BaP-treated group, compared with solvent control. BaP enhanced the capability of invasion of A549 cells. Twist knockdown could block the migration and invasion of A549 cells induced by BaP treatment. The mRNA levels of Twist were higher in metastatic NSCLC tissue samples than in primary NSCLC tissue samples, and higher levels of Twist mRNA were observed in metastatic NSCLC tissue samples with smoking history than in those with nonsmoking history. BaP treatment could promote the migration and invasion of NSCLC cells by up-regulating Twist expression.

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