A miRNA signature for an environmental heterocyclic amine defined by a multi-organ carcinogenicity bioassay in the rat. Academic Article uri icon


  • Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) produced during high-temperature cooking have been studied extensively in terms of their genotoxic/genetic effects, but recent work has implicated epigenetic mechanisms involving non-coding RNAs. Colon tumors induced in the rat by 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) have altered microRNA (miRNA) signatures linked to dysregulated pluripotency factors, such as c-Myc and Krppel-like factor 4 (KLF4). We tested the hypothesis that dysregulated miRNAs from PhIP-induced colon tumors would provide a "PhIP signature" for use in other target organs obtained from a 1-year carcinogenicity bioassay in the rat. Downstream targets that were corroborated in the rat were then investigated in human cancer datasets. The results confirmed that multiple let-7 family members were downregulated in PhIP-induced skin, colon, lung, small intestine, and Zymbal's gland tumors, and were associated with c-myc and Hmga2 upregulation. PhIP signature miRNAs with the profile mir-21high/mir-126low/mir-29clow/mir-215low/mir-145low were linked to reduced Klf4 levels in rat tumors, and in human pan-cancer and colorectal cancer. It remains to be determined whether this PhIP signature has predictive value, given that more than 20 different genotoxic HCAs are present in the human diet, plus other agents that likely induce or repress many of the same miRNAs. Future studies should define more precisely the miRNA signatures of other HCAs, and their possible value for human risk assessment.

published proceedings

  • Arch Toxicol

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, Y., Wang, R., Dashwood, W., Lhr, C. V., Williams, D. E., Ho, E., Mertens-Talcott, S., & Dashwood, R. H.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Chen, Ying-Shiuan||Wang, Rong||Dashwood, Wan-Mohaiza||Löhr, Christiane V||Williams, David E||Ho, Emily||Mertens-Talcott, Susanne||Dashwood, Roderick H

publication date

  • March 2017