Cellular responses to carcinogens are typically studied in transformed cell lines, which do not reflect the physiological status of normal tissues. To address this question, we have characterized the transcriptional program and cellular responses of human lung WI-38 fibroblasts upon exposure to the ultimate carcinogen benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide (BPDE). In contrast to observations in cell lines, we find that BPDE treatment induces a strong inflammatory response in these normal fibroblasts. Whole-genome microarrays show induction of numerous inflammatory factors, including genes that encode interleukins (ILs), growth factors and enzymes related to prostaglandin synthesis and signaling. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) revealed a timeand dose-dependent-induced expression and production of cyclooxygenase 2, prostglandin E2 and IL1B, IL6 and IL8. In parallel, cell cycle progression and DNA repair processes were repressed, but DNA damage signaling was increased via p53-Ser15 phosphorylation and induced expression levels of GADD45A, CDKN1A, BTG2 and SESN1. Network analysis suggested that activator protein 1 transcription factors may link the cell cycle response and DNA damage signaling with the inflammatory stress-response in these cells. We confirmed this hypothesis by showing that p53-dependent signaling through c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) led to increased cJun-Ser63 phosphorylation and that inhibition of JNK-mediated cJun activation using p53or JNK-specific inhibitors significantly reduced IL gene expression and subsequent production of IL8. This is the first demonstration that a strong inflammatory response is triggered in normal fibroblasts by BPDE and that this occurs through coordinated regulation with other cellular processes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research