The transformics assay: First steps for the development of an integrated approach to investigate the malignant cell transformation in vitro

Maria Grazia Mascolo*, Stefania Perdichizzi, Monica Vaccari, Francesca Rotondo, Cristina Zanzi, Sandro Grilli, Martin Paparella, Miriam N. Jacobs, Annamaria Colacci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The development of alternative methods to animal testing is a priority in the context of regulatory toxicology. Carcinogenesis is a field where the demand for alternative methods is particularly high. The standard rodent carcinogenicity bioassay requires a large use of animals, high costs, prolonged duration and shows several limitations, which can affect the comprehension of the human relevance of animal carcinogenesis. The cell transformation assay (CTA) has long been debated as a possible in vitro test to study carcinogenesis. This assay provides an easily detectable endpoint of oncotransformation, which can be used to anchor the exposure to the acquisition of the malignant phenotype. However, the current protocols do not provide information on either molecular key events supporting the carcinogenesis process, nor the mechanism of action of the test chemicals. In order to improve the use of this assay in the integrated testing strategy for carcinogenesis, we developed the transformics method, which combines the CTA and transcriptomics, to highlight the molecular steps leading to in vitro malignant transformation. We studied 3-methylcholanthrene (3-MCA), a genotoxic chemical able to induce in vitro cell transformation, at both transforming and subtransforming concentrations in BALB/c 3T3 cells and evaluated the gene modulation at critical steps of the experimental protocol. The results gave evidence for the potential key role of the immune system and the possible involvement of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) pathway as the initial steps of the in vitro transformation process induced by 3-MCA, suggesting that the initiating events are related to non-genotoxic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-967
Number of pages13
JournalCarcinogenesis
Volume39
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

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