NTP identifies new candidate markers of liver toxicity
National Toxicology Program (NTP) scientists and their collaborators used an animal model to identify new genetic markers that predict liver cancer before tumors form. The authors evaluated novel liver RNAs in rats fed low levels of the fungal toxin aflatoxin B1, a known animal and human liver carcinogen. The newly identified genetic RNA markers could lead to sensitive and early diagnosis of liver cancer in humans.
The new genetic markers were a type of RNA molecule that does not contain the code for protein, also known as long noncoding RNA. The researchers named these newly discovered long noncoding RNAs hepatic aflatoxin transcripts (HAfTs). Of the 28 HAfTs that were initially detected, the identity, presence, and levels of 17 were confirmed by Sanger sequencing or polymerase chain reaction. The others were identified bioinformatically.
Because long noncoding RNAs can act as modulators of gene expression, the authors hypothesized that detection of the newly identified HAfTs might reflect a liver stress response to continued aflatoxin exposure in the animal model. Interestingly, many of the HAfTs identified in rats were also predicted to occur in mice and humans, including some novel forms in all three species. The scientists affirmed that HAfTs could be important for understanding human liver toxicity and the development of hepatic cancer. (DGS)
Citation: Merrick BA, Chang JS, Phadke DP, Bostrom MA, Shah RR, Wang X, Gordon O, Wright GM. 2018. HAfTs are novel IncRNA transcripts from aflatoxin exposure. PLoS One 13(1):e0190992.