Send to

Choose Destination
Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Apr;123(4):324-30. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1408626. Epub 2014 Nov 21.

Global analysis of posttranscriptional gene expression in response to sodium arsenite.

Author information

Laboratory of Signal Transduction, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA.



Inorganic arsenic species are potent environmental toxins and causes of numerous health problems. Most studies have assumed that arsenic-induced changes in mRNA levels result from effects on gene transcription.


We evaluated the prevalence of changes in mRNA stability in response to sodium arsenite in human fibroblasts.


We used microarray analyses to determine changes in steady-state mRNA levels and mRNA decay rates following 24-hr exposure to noncytotoxic concentrations of sodium arsenite, and we confirmed some of these changes using real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).


In arsenite-exposed cells, 186 probe set-identified transcripts were significantly increased and 167 were significantly decreased. When decay rates were analyzed after actinomycin D treatment, only 4,992 (9.1%) of probe set-identified transcripts decayed by > 25% after 4 hr. Of these, 70 were among the 353 whose steady-state levels were altered by arsenite, and of these, only 4 exhibited significantly different decay rates between arsenite and control treatment. Real-time RT-PCR confirmed a major, significant arsenite-induced stabilization of the mRNA encoding δ aminolevulinate synthase 1 (ALAS1), the rate-limiting enzyme in heme biosynthesis. This change presumably accounted for at least part of the 2.7-fold increase in steady-state ALAS1 mRNA levels seen after arsenite treatment. This could reflect decreases in cellular heme caused by the massive induction by arsenite of heme oxygenase mRNA (HMOX1; 68-fold increase), the rate-limiting enzyme in heme catabolism.


We conclude that arsenite modification of mRNA stability is relatively uncommon, but in some instances can result in significant changes in gene expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center