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Comparison of the metabolic activation of environmental carcinogens in mouse embryonic stem cells and mouse embryonic fibroblasts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Annette M Krais, Karl-Rudolf Mühlbauer, Jill E Kucab, Helena Chinbuah, Michael G Cornelius, Quan-Xiang Wei, Monica Hollstein, David H Phillips, Volker M Arlt, Heinz H Schmeiser

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology in Vitro
Issue number1
Early online date16 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


King's Authors


We compared mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells and fibroblasts (MEFs) for their ability to metabolically activate the environmental carcinogens benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), 3-nitrobenzanthrone (3-NBA) and aristolochic acid I (AAI), measuring DNA adduct formation by (32)P-postlabelling and expression of xenobiotic-metabolism genes by quantitative real-time PCR. At 2μM, BaP induced Cyp1a1 expression in MEFs to a much greater extent than in ES cells and formed 45 times more adducts. Nqo1 mRNA expression was increased by 3-NBA in both cell types but induction was higher in MEFs, as was adduct formation. For AAI, DNA binding was over 450 times higher in MEFs than in ES cells, although Nqo1 and Cyp1a1 transcriptional levels did not explain this difference. We found higher global methylation of DNA in ES cells than in MEFs, which suggests higher chromatin density and lower accessibility of the DNA to DNA damaging agents in ES cells. However, AAI treatment did not alter DNA methylation. Thus mouse ES cells and MEFs have the metabolic competence to activate a number of environmental carcinogens, but MEFs have lower global DNA methylation and higher metabolic capacity than mouse ES cells.

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