Epigenetic Actions of Environmental Arsenicals

Relevance to SWEHSC: 

Futscher and Wondrak were the first to identify the epigenetic actions of environmental arsenicals. The discovery that exposing human cells to levels of arsenic often found in real world situations produces new pathologic epigenetic landscapes that participate in the malignant transformation of human cells. Arsenical-mediated malignant transformation produces long-term epigenetic changes in the cancer cell genome that disrupt normal structure and function common to multiple types of arsenical-induced cancers. Fetal exposure to arsenic could increase susceptibility to fatty liver disease and disrupt the normal epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Efforts focus on systemic injury from excessive environmental exposure to solar UV radiation leading to photo-immunosuppression and carcinogenesis.

Cluster of Efforts: 

Investigators:
Georg Wondrak, PhD.
Bernard Futscher, PhD.
Todd Camenisch, PhD. 

Milestones: 
  • Among the first to identify the environmental actions of environmental arsenicals. 
  • Exposing human cells to arsenic leads to new pathologic epigenetic changes that contribute to the malignant transformation of human cells. 
  • Arsenical-mediated malignant transformation produces long-term epigenetic changes in the cancer cell genome that disrupt normall structure and function common to multiple types of arsenical-induced cancers. 
  • Further studies have shown that fetal exposure to arsenic could increase susceptibility to fatty liver disease later in life and disrupt the normal epithelial to mesenchymal transition necessary for healthy cardiac development.