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1.  Monomethylarsonous acid induces transformation of human bladder cells 
Arsenic is a human bladder carcinogen. Arsenic is methylated to both monomethyl and dimethyl metabolites which have been detected in human urine. The trivalent methylated arsenicals are more toxic than inorganic arsenic. It is unknown if these trivalent methylated metabolites can directly cause malignant transformation in human cells. The goal of this study is determine if monomethylarsonous acid (MMAIII) can induce malignant transformation in a human bladder urothelial cell line. To address this goal, a non-tumorigenic human urothelial cell line (UROtsa) was continuously exposed to 0.05 μM MMAIII for 52 weeks. Hyperproliferation was the first phenotypic change observed in exposed UROtsa (URO-MSC). After 12 weeks of exposure, doubling time had decreased from 42 h in unexposed control cells to 27 h in URO-MSC. Hyperproliferation continued to be a quality possessed by the URO-MSC cells after both 24 and 52 weeks of exposure to MMAIII, which had a 40–50% reduction in doubling time. Throughout the 52-week exposure, URO-MSC cells retained an epithelial morphology with subtle morphological differences from control cells. 24 weeks of MMAIII exposure was required to induce anchorage-independent growth as detected by colony formation in soft agar, a characteristic not found in UROtsa cells. To further substantiate that malignant transformation had occurred, URO-MSC cells were tested after 24 and 52 weeks of exposure to MMAIII for the ability to form tumors in SCID mice. Enhanced tumorigenicity in SCID mouse xenografts was observed after 52 weeks of treatment with MMAIII. These observations are the first demonstration of MMAIII-induced malignant transformation in a human bladder urothelial cell line and provide important evidence that MMAIII may be carcinogenic in human tissues.
PMCID: PMC2851136  PMID: 16806342
Arsenic methylation; Monomethylarsonous acid; Bladder cancer; Cell culture; UROtsa
2.  Epigenetic remodeling during arsenical-induced malignant transformation 
Carcinogenesis  2008;29(8):1500-1508.
Humans are exposed to arsenicals through many routes with the most common being in drinking water. Exposure to arsenic has been associated with an increase in the incidence of cancer of the skin, lung and bladder. Although the relationship between exposure and carcinogenesis is well documented, the mechanisms by which arsenic participates in tumorigenesis are not fully elucidated. We evaluated the potential epigenetic component of arsenical action by assessing the histone acetylation state of 13 000 human gene promoters in a cell line model of arsenical-mediated malignant transformation. We show changes in histone H3 acetylation occur during arsenical-induced malignant transformation that are linked to the expression state of the associated gene. DNA hypermethylation was detected in hypoacetylated promoters in the select cases analyzed. These epigenetic changes occurred frequently in the same promoters whether the selection was performed with arsenite [As(III)] or with monomethylarsonous acid, suggesting that these promoters were targeted in a non-random fashion, and probably occur in regions important in arsenical-induced malignant transformation. Taken together, these data suggest that arsenicals may participate in tumorigenesis by altering the epigenetic terrain of select genes.
PMCID: PMC2516486  PMID: 18448484
3.  Nrf2 protects human bladder urothelial cells from arsenite and monomethylarsonous acid toxicity 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2007;225(2):206-213.
Arsenic is widely spread in our living environment and imposes a big challenge on human health worldwide. Arsenic damages biological systems through multiple mechanisms including the generation of reactive oxygen species. The transcription factor Nrf2 regulates the cellular antioxidant response that protects cells from various insults. In this study, the protective role of Nrf2 in arsenic toxicity was investigated in a human bladder urothelial cell line, UROtsa. Using an UROtsa cell line stably infected with Nrf2-siRNA, we clearly demonstrate that compromised Nrf2 expression sensitized the cells to As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity. On the other hand, the activation of the Nrf2 pathway by tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) and sulforaphane (SF), the known Nrf2-inducers, rendered UROtsa cells more resistant to As(III)- and MMA(III). Furthermore, the wild type mouse embryo fibroblast (WT-MEF) cells were protected from As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity following Nrf2 activation by tBHQ or SF whereas neither tBHQ nor SF conferred protection in the Nrf2−/−-MEF cells, demonstrating that tBHQ- or SF-mediated protection against As(III)- and MMA(III)-induced toxicity depends on Nrf2 activation. These results, obtained by both loss of function and gain of function analyses, clearly demonstrate the protective role of Nrf2 in arsenic-induced toxicity. The current work lays the groundwork for using Nrf2 activators for therapeutic and dietary interventions against adverse effects of arsenic.
PMCID: PMC2610476  PMID: 17765279
Nrf2; Keap1; arsenic; arsenite; MMA(III); UROtsa

Results 1-3 (3)