NYMC Faculty Publications


Single-cell RNA Sequencing Reveals an Altered Gene Expression Pattern as a Result of CRISPR/cas9-mediated Deletion of Gene 33/Mig6 and Chronic Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium in Human Lung Epithelial Cells

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Gene 33 (Mig6, ERRFI1) is an adaptor protein with multiple cellular functions. We recently reported that depletion of this protein promotes lung epithelial cell transformation induced by hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)]. However, the early molecular events that mediate this process are not clear. In the present study, we used single-cell RNA sequencing to compare gene expression profiles between BEAS-2B lung epithelial cells chronically exposed to a sublethal dose of Cr(VI) with or without CRISPR/cas9-mediated deletion of Gene 33. Our data reveal 83 differentially expressed genes. The most notable changes are genes associated with cell adhesion, oxidative stresses, protein ubiquitination, epithelial-mesenchymal transition/metastasis, and WNT signaling. Up-regulation of some neuro-specific genes is also evident, particularly ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCHL1), a deubiquitinase and potential biomarker for lung cancer. Gene 33 deletion and/or Cr(VI) exposure did not cause discernable changes in cell morphology. However, Gene 33 deletion led to a modest but significant reduction of cells in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle regardless of Cr(VI) exposure. Gene 33 deletion also significantly reduced cell proliferation. Interestingly, Cr(VI) exposure eliminated the difference in cell proliferation between the two genotypes. Gene 33 deletion also significantly elevated cell migration. Our data indicate that combined Gene 33 deletion and chronic Cr(VI) exposure produces a gene expression pattern and a phenotype resemble those of the transformed lung epithelial cells. Given the known association of UCHL1 with lung cancer, we propose that UCHL1 is an important player in the early stage of lung epithelial cell transformation and tumorigenesis.


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Originally published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. The original material can be found here.