Cigarette sidestream smoke induces histone H3 phosphorylation via JNK and PI3K/Akt pathways, leading to the expression of proto-oncogenes.

PMID 24398671


Post-translational modifications in histones have been associated with cancer. Although cigarette sidestream smoke (CSS) as well as mainstream smoke are carcinogens, the relationship between carcinogenicity and histone modifications has not yet been clarified. Here, we demonstrated that CSS induced phosphorylation of histones, involving a carcinogenic process. Treatment with CSS markedly induced the phosphorylation of histone H3 at serine 10 and 28 residues (H3S10 and H3S28), which was independent from the cell cycle, in the human pulmonary epithelial cell model, A549 and normal human lung fibroblasts, MRC-5 and WI-38. Using specific inhibitors and small interfering RNA, the phosphorylation of H3S10 was found to be mediated by c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathways. These pathways were different from that of the CSS-induced phosphorylation of histone H2AX (γ-H2AX) mediated by Ataxia telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) and ATM-Rad3-related (ATR) protein kinases. A chromatin immunoprecipitation assay revealed that the phosphorylation of H3S10 was increased in the promoter sites of the proto-oncogenes, c-fos and c-jun, which indicated that CSS plays a role in tumor promotion. Because the phosphorylation of H3S10 was decreased in the aldehyde-removed CSS and was significantly induced by treatment with formaldehyde, aldehydes are suspected to partially contribute to this phosphorylation. These findings suggested that any chemicals in CSS, including aldehydes, phosphorylate H3S10 via JNK and PI3K/Akt pathways, which is different from the DNA damage response, resulting in tumor promotion.