Open Access Open Badges Research article

Transcriptomic effects of di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate in Syrian hamster embryo cells: an important role of early cytoskeleton disturbances in carcinogenesis?

Yann Landkocz1*, Pascal Poupin1, Franck Atienzar2 and Paule Vasseur1

Author Affiliations

1 CNRS UMR7146, Laboratoire I.E.B.E., Rue General Delestraint, 57070 Metz, France

2 UCB Pharma SA, Non-Clinical Development, Chemin du Foriest, 1420 Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:524  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-524

Published: 25 October 2011



Di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) is a commonly used plasticizer in polyvinylchloride (PVC) formulations and a potentially non-genotoxic carcinogen. The aim of this study was to identify genes whose level of expression is altered by DEHP by using a global wide-genome approach in Syrian hamster embryo (SHE) cells, a model similar to human cells regarding their responses to this type of carcinogen. With mRNA Differential Display (DD), we analysed the transcriptional regulation of SHE cells exposed to 0, 12.5, 25 and 50 μM of DEHP for 24 hrs, conditions which induced neoplastic transformation of these cells. A real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to confirm differential expression of genes identified by DD.


Gene expression profiling showed 178 differentially-expressed fragments corresponding to 122 genes after tblastx comparisons, 79 up-regulated and 43 down-regulated. The genes of interest were involved in many biological pathways, including signal transduction, regulation of the cytoskeleton, xenobiotic metabolism, apoptosis, lipidogenesis, protein conformation, transport and cell cycle. We then focused particularly on genes involved in the regulation of the cytoskeleton, one of the processes occurring during carcinogenesis and in the early steps of neoplastic transformation. Twenty one cytoskeleton-related genes were studied by qPCR. The down-regulated genes were involved in focal adhesion or cell junction. The up-regulated genes were involved in the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton and this would suggest a role of cellular plasticity in the mechanism of chemical carcinogenesis. The gene expression changes identified in the present study were PPAR-independent.


This study identified a set of genes whose expression is altered by DEHP exposure in mammalian embryo cells. This is the first study that elucidates the genomic changes of DEHP involved in the organization of the cytoskeleton. The latter genes may be candidates as biomarkers predictive of early events in the multistep carcinogenic process.