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J Appl Toxicol. 2018 Apr;38(4):480-488. doi: 10.1002/jat.3555. Epub 2017 Nov 17.

Arsenite downregulates H3K4 trimethylation and H3K9 dimethylation during transformation of human bronchial epithelial cells.

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Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Key Laboratory of Environment and Health, Ministry of Education, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, 430030, People's Republic of China.


Arsenic is an established human carcinogen but with weak mutagenic activity. The mechanisms of arsenic-induced carcinogenesis are not well understood. In the present study, we investigated the role of histone methylation in transformation of human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells. After 16 weeks' exposure, cells were transformed by 0.1, 0.5 and 1 μm arsenite. Global trimethylated H3K4 (H3K4me3) was decreased by 0.1 μm arsenite at 12 weeks, and 0.5 and 1 μm arsenite at 8, 12 and 16 weeks, which could be attributed to reduced histone methyltransferase activities, increased histone demethylase (HDM) activities as well as increased protein levels of H3K4 demethylase KDM5A. Global dimethylated H3K9 (H3K9me2) was also decreased after exposure to 0.5 μm arsenite for 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks and 1.0 μm arsenite for 8 and 12 weeks, which was associated with an increase of HDM activities. Our findings indicated that arsenite decreased global H3K4me3 and H3K9me2 levels during cell transformation by modulating the enzymatic activities of histone methyltransferases and/or HDMs, and by upregulation of KDM5A protein levels for H3K4me3.


BEAS-2B cells; H3K4 trimethylation; H3K9 dimethylation; arsenite; cell transformation

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