Open Access Research article

Benzo(a)pyrene induces similar gene expression changes in testis of DNA repair proficient and deficient mice

Nicole Verhofstad1, Jeroen LA Pennings2, Conny ThM van Oostrom2, Jan van Benthem2, Frederik J van Schooten1, Harry van Steeg2 and Roger WL Godschalk1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Risk Analysis and Toxicology, School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University, PO box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands

2 Laboratory for Health Protection Research, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:333  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-333

Published: 26 May 2010



Benzo [a]pyrene (B[a]P) exposure induces DNA adducts at all stages of spermatogenesis and in testis, and removal of these lesions is less efficient in nucleotide excision repair deficient Xpc-/- mice than in wild type mice. In this study, we investigated by using microarray technology whether compromised DNA repair in Xpc-/- mice may lead to a transcriptional reaction of the testis to cope with increased levels of B[a]P induced DNA damage.


Two-Way ANOVA revealed only 4 genes differentially expressed between wild type and Xpc-/- mice, and 984 genes between testes of B[a]P treated and untreated mice irrespective of the mouse genotype. However, the level in which these B[a]P regulated genes are expressed differs between Wt and Xpc-/- mice (p = 0.000000141), and were predominantly involved in the regulation of cell cycle, translation, chromatin structure and spermatogenesis, indicating a general stress response. In addition, analysis of cell cycle phase dependent gene expression revealed that expression of genes involved in G1-S and G2-M phase arrest was increased after B[a]P exposure in both genotypes. A slightly higher induction of average gene expression was observed at the G2-M checkpoint in Xpc-/- mice, but this did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.086). Other processes that were expected to have changed by exposure, like apoptosis and DNA repair, were not found to be modulated at the level of gene expression.


Gene expression in testis of untreated Xpc-/- and wild type mice were very similar, with only 4 genes differentially expressed. Exposure to benzo(a)pyrene affected the expression of genes that are involved in cell cycle regulation in both genotypes, indicating that the presence of unrepaired DNA damage in testis blocks cell proliferation to protect DNA integrity in both DNA repair proficient and deficient animals.