Long-Fiber Carbon Nanotubes Replicate Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma with Disruption of the Tumor Suppressor Gene Cdkn2a (Ink4a/Arf)

Tatyana Chernova, Fiona A Murphy, Sara Galavotti, Xiao-Ming Sun, Ian R Powley, Stefano Grosso, Anja Schinwald, Joaquin Zacarias-Cabeza, Kate M Dudek, David Dinsdale, John Le Quesne, Jonathan Bennett, Apostolos Nakas, Peter Greaves, Craig A Poland, Ken Donaldson, Martin Bushell, Anne E Willis, Marion MacFarlane

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Abstract / Description of output

Mesothelioma is a fatal tumor of the pleura and is strongly associated with asbestos exposure. The molecular mechanisms underlying the long latency period of mesothelioma and driving carcinogenesis are unknown. Moreover, late diagnosis means that mesothelioma research is commonly focused on end-stage disease. Although disruption of the CDKN2A (INK4A/ARF) locus has been reported in end-stage disease, information is lacking on the status of this key tumor suppressor gene in pleural lesions preceding mesothelioma. Manufactured carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are similar to asbestos in terms of their fibrous shape and biopersistent properties and thus may pose an asbestos-like inhalation hazard. Here we show that instillation of either long CNTs or long asbestos fibers into the pleural cavity of mice induces mesothelioma that exhibits common key pro-oncogenic molecular events throughout the latency period of disease progression. Sustained activation of pro-oncogenic signaling pathways, increased proliferation, and oxidative DNA damage form a common molecular signature of long-CNT- and long-asbestos-fiber-induced pathology. We show that hypermethylation of p16/Ink4a and p19/Arf in CNT- and asbestos-induced inflammatory lesions precedes mesothelioma; this results in silencing of Cdkn2a (Ink4a/Arf) and loss of p16 and p19 protein, consistent with epigenetic alterations playing a gatekeeper role in cancer. In end-stage mesothelioma, silencing of p16/Ink4a is sustained and deletion of p19/Arf is detected, recapitulating human disease. This study addresses the long-standing question of which early molecular changes drive carcinogenesis during the long latency period of mesothelioma development and shows that CNT and asbestos pose a similar health hazard.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3302-3314.e6
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume27
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2017

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