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    Precision toxicology evaluates the toxicity of certain substances by isolating a small group of cells with a typical phenotype of interest followed by a single cell sequencing-based analysis. In this in vitro attempt, ochratoxin A (OTA), a typical mycotoxin and food contaminant, is found to induce G0/G1 phase cell cycle arrest in human renal proximal tubular HKC cells at a concentration of 20 μM after a 24h-treatment. A small number of G0/G1 phase HKC cells are evaluated in both the presence and absence of OTA. These cells are sorted with a flow cytometer and subjected to mRNA and DNA methylation sequencing using Smart-Seq2 and single-cell reduced-representation bisulfite sequencing (scRRBS) technology, respectively. Integrated analysis of the transcriptome and methylome profiles reveals that OTA causes abnormal expression of the essential genes that regulate G1/S phase transition, act as signal transductors in G1 DNA damage checkpoints, and associate with the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome. The alteration of their DNA methylation status is a significant underlying epigenetic mechanism. Furthermore, Notch signaling and Ras/MAPK/CREB pathways are found to be suppressed by OTA. This attempt at precision toxicology paves the way for a deeper understanding of OTA toxicity and provides an innovative strategy to researchers in the toxicology and pharmacology field.


    Boyang Zhang, Liye Zhu, Yaqi Dai, Hongyu Li, Kunlun Huang, Yunbo Luo, Wentao Xu. An in vitro attempt at precision toxicology reveals the involvement of DNA methylation alteration in ochratoxin A-induced G0/G1 phase arrest. Epigenetics. 2020 Jan - Feb;15(1-2):199-214

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    PMID: 31314649

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