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Exposure to environmental toxicants reduces global N6-methyladenosine RNA methylation and alters expression of RNA methylation modulator genes

Cayir, Akin, Barrow, Timothy M., Guo, Liqiong, Byun, Hyang-Min
Environmental research 2019 v.175 pp. 228-234
bisphenol A, carcinogens, data collection, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, epithelial cells, epithelium, gene expression regulation, genes, humans, lung neoplasms, lungs, messenger RNA, methylation, microarray technology, particulates, sodium arsenite, vinclozolin
The epitranscriptome comprises more than 100 forms of RNA modifications. Of these, N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most abundantform of RNA methylation, with roles in modulating mRNA transcript processing and regulation. The aims of the study weretoexamine changes inm6A RNA methylation in A549 lung epithelial cells in response to environmental toxicants, anddifferential gene expression of m6A modulator genes (‘readers’, ‘writers’ and ‘erasers’) in human subjects exposed toparticulate matter (PM) and in lung cancer tissueusing publicly-available microarray datasets. Global m6A methylation levelsweremeasured in total RNA after exposuretotwo carcinogens (PM and sodium arsenite) for 24- and 48-h, and totwo endocrine disruptors (bisphenol A and vinclozolin)for 24-h.Global m6A methylation level significantly decreased with exposure to >62 μg/mlPM, >1 μM sodium arsenite, >1 μM bisphenol A (BPA), and0.1 μM vinclozolin. In an analysis of a published dataset derived from a population study, we observed that m6A writers (METTL3 and WTAP), erasers (FTO and ALKBH5) and readers (HNRPC) showed significantly higher expression among participants in the high-PM2.5exposure group compared to those in the low-exposure control group (all p < 0.05). Further, the m6A writer METTL3shows reduced expression in lung tumors in comparison to normal lung epithelia (p < 0.0001). Our findings reveal that m6A RNA methylation can be modified by exposure to environmental toxicants, and exposure to particulate matter is associated with differential expression level of m6A RNA methylation modification machinery.