Effects of airborne pollutants on mitochondrial DNA Methylation

Hyang Min Byun, Tommaso Panni, Valeria Motta, Lifang Hou, Francesco Nordio, Pietro Apostoli, Pier Alberto Bertazzi, Andrea A. Baccarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Mitochondria have small mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecules independent from the nuclear DNA, a separate epigenetic machinery that generates mtDNA methylation, and are primary sources of oxidative-stress generation in response to exogenous environments. However, no study has yet investigated whether mitochondrial DNA methylation is sensitive to pro-oxidant environmental exposures.Methods: We sampled 40 male participants (20 high-, 20 low-exposure) from each of three studies on airborne pollutants, including investigations of steel workers exposed to metal-rich particulate matter (measured as PM1) in Brescia, Italy (Study 1); gas-station attendants exposed to air benzene in Milan, Italy (Study 2); and truck drivers exposed to traffic-derived Elemental Carbon (EC) in Beijing, China (Study 3). We have measured DNA methylation from buffy coats of the participants. We measured methylation by bisulfite-Pyrosequencing in three mtDNA regions, i.e., the transfer RNA phenylalanine (MT-TF), 12S ribosomal RNA (MT-RNR1) gene and " D-loop" control region. All analyses were adjusted for age and smoking.Results: In Study 1, participants with high metal-rich PM1 exposure showed higher MT-TF and MT-RNR1 methylation than low-exposed controls (difference = 1.41, P = 0.002); MT-TF and MT-RNR1 methylation was significantly associated with PM1 exposure (beta = 1.35, P = 0.025); and MT-RNR1 methylation was positively correlated with mtDNA copy number (r = 0.36; P = 0.02). D-loop methylation was not associated with PM1 exposure. We found no effects on mtDNA methylation from air benzene (Study 2) and traffic-derived EC exposure (Study 3).Conclusions: Mitochondrial MT-TF and MT-RNR1 DNA methylation was associated with metal-rich PM1 exposure and mtDNA copy number. Our results suggest that locus-specific mtDNA methylation is correlated to selected exposures and mtDNA damage. Larger studies are needed to validate our observations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 8 2013

Keywords

  • Air pollutants
  • DNA methylation
  • Mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology

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