Assessing molecular initiating events (MIEs), key events (KEs) and modulating factors (MFs) for styrene responses in mouse lungs using whole genome gene expression profiling following 1-day and multi-week exposures

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Styrene increased lung tumors in mice at chronic inhalation exposures of 20 ppm and greater. MIEs, KEs and MFs were examined using gene expression in three strains of male mice (the parental C57BL/6 strain, a CYP2F2(−/−) knock out and a CYP2F2(−/−) transgenic containing human CYP2F1, 2A13 and 2B6). Exposures were for 1-day and 1, 4 and 26 weeks. After 1-day exposures at 1, 5, 10, 20, 40 and 120 ppm significant increases in differentially expressed genes (DEGs) occurred only in parental strain lungs where there was already an increase in DEGs at 5 ppm and then many thousands of DEGs by 120 ppm. Enrichment for 1-day and 1-week exposures included cell cycle, mitotic M-M/G1 phases, DNA-synthesis and metabolism of lipids and lipoproteins pathways. The numbers of DEGs decreased steadily over time with no DEGs meeting both statistical significance and fold-change criteria at 26 weeks. At 4 and 26 weeks, some key transcription factors (TFs) - Nr1d1, Nr1d2, Dbp, Tef, Hlf, Per3, Per2 and Bhlhe40 - were upregulated (|FC| > 1.5), while others - Npas, Arntl, Nfil3, Nr4a1, Nr4a2, and Nr4a3 - were down-regulated. At all times, consistent changes in gene expression only occurred in the parental strain. Our results support a MIE for styrene of direct mitogenicity from mouse-specific CYP2F2-mediated metabolites activating Nr4a signaling. Longer-term MFs include down-regulation of Nr4a genes and shifts in both circadian clock TFs and other TFs, linking circadian clock to cellular metabolism. We found no gene expression changes indicative of cytotoxicity or activation of p53-mediated DNA-damage pathways.

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