Epigenetic alteration of mitochondrial biogenesis regulatory genes in arsenic exposed individuals (with and without skin lesions) and in skin cancer tissues: A case control study

Skin Cancer

Sanyal T, et al. Chemosphere 2020.


Chronic arsenic toxicity has become a global concern due to its adverse pathophysiological outcome and carcinogenic potential. It is already established that arsenic induced reactive oxygen species alters mitochondrial functionality. Major regulatory genes for mitochondrial biogenesis, i.e., PGC1α, Tfam, NRF1and NRF2 are located in the nucleus. As a result, mitochondria-nucleus crosstalk is crucial for proper mitochondrial function. This previous hypothesis led us to investigateinvolvement of

epigenetic alteration behindenhanced mitochondrial biogenesis in chronic arsenic exposure. An extensive case-control study was conducted with 390 study participants (unexposed, exposed without skin lesion, exposed with skin lesion and exposed skin tumour) from highly arsenic exposed areas ofWest Bengal, India. Methylation specific PCRrevealed significant promoter hypomethylation oftwo key biogenesis regulatory genes, PGC1αandTfam in arsenic exposed individuals and also in skin tumour tissues. Linear regression analysis indicated significant negative correlation between urinary arsenic concentration and promoter methylation status. Increased expression of biogenesis regulatory genes wasobtained by quantitative real-time PCR analysis. Moreover, altered mitochondrial fusion-fission regulatory gene expression was also observed in skin tumour tissues. miR663, having tumour suppressor gene like function was known to be epigenetically regulated through mitochondrial retrograde signal. Promoter hypermethylation with significantly decreased expression of miR663 was found in skin cancer tissues compared to non-cancerous control tissue. In conclusion, results indicated crucial role of epigenetic alteration in arsenic induced mitochondrial biogenesis and arsenical skin carcinogenesis for the first time. However, further mechanistic studies are necessary for detailed understanding of mitochondria-nucleus crosstalk in arsenic perturbation.