Analysis and modeling of time-course gene-expression profiles from nanomaterial-exposed primary human epidermal keratinocytes Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: Nanomaterials are being manufactured on a commercial scale for use in medical, diagnostic, energy, component and communications industries. However, concerns over the safety of engineered nanomaterials have surfaced. Humans can be exposed to nanomaterials in different ways such as inhalation or exposure through the integumentary system. Results: The interactions of engineered nanomaterials with primary human cells was investigated, using a systems biology approach combining gene expression microarray profiling with dynamic experimental parameters. In this experiment, primary human epidermal keratinocytes cells were exposed to several low-micron to nano-scale materials, and gene expression was profiled over both time and dose to compile a comprehensive picture of nanomaterial-cellular interactions. Very few gene-expression studies so far have dealt with both time and dose response simultaneously. Here, we propose different approaches to this kind of analysis. First, we used heat maps and multi-dimensional scaling (MDS) plots to visualize the dose response of nanomaterials over time. Then, in order to find out the most common patterns in gene-expression profiles, we used self-organizing maps (SOM) combined with two different criteria to determine the number of clusters. The consistency of SOM results is discussed in context of the information derived from the MDS plots. Finally, in order to identify the genes that have significantly different responses among different levels of dose of each treatment while accounting for the effect of time at the same time, we used a two-way ANOVA model, in connection with Tukey's additivity test and the Box-Cox transformation. The results are discussed in the context of the cellular responses of engineered nanomaterials. Conclusion: The analysis presented here lead to interesting and complementary conclusions about the response across time of human epidermal keratinocytes after exposure to nanomaterials. For example, we observed that gene expression for most treatments become closer to the expression of the baseline cultures as time proceeds. The genes found to be differentially-expressed are involved in a number of cellular processes, including regulation of transcription and translation, protein localization, transport, cell cycle progression, cell migration, cytoskeletal reorganization, signal transduction, and development. 2009 Zollanvari et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

published proceedings

  • BMC Bioinformatics

author list (cited authors)

  • Zollanvari, A., Cunningham, M. J., Braga-Neto, U., & Dougherty, E. R.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Zollanvari, A||Cunningham, MJ||Braga-Neto, U||Dougherty, ER

publication date

  • October 2009