Transcriptome profiling in oral cavity and esophagus tissues from (S)-N′-nitrosonornicotine-treated rats reveals candidate genes involved in human oral cavity and esophageal carcinogenesis

Ali Khammanivong, Arunkumar Anandharaj, Xuemin Qian, Jung Min Song, Pramod Upadhyaya, Silvia Balbo, Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, Erin B. Dickerson, Stephen S. Hecht, Fekadu Kassie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Recently, we have shown that (S)-N'-Nitrosonornicotine [(S)-NNN], the major form of NNN in tobacco products, is a potent oral cavity and esophageal carcinogen in rats. To determine the early molecular alterations induced by (S)-NNN in the oral and esophageal mucosa, we administered the carcinogen to rats in the drinking water for 10 wk and global gene expression alterations were analyzed by RNA sequencing. At a false discovery rate P-value < 0.05 and fold-change ≥2, we found alterations in the level of 39 genes in the oral cavity and 69 genes in the esophagus. Validation of RNA sequencing results by qRT-PCR assays revealed a high cross-platform concordance. The most significant impact of exposure to (S)-NNN was alteration of genes involved in immune regulation (Aire, Ctla4, and CD80), inflammation (Ephx2 and Inpp5d) and cancer (Cdkn2a, Dhh, Fetub B, Inpp5d, Ly6E, Nr1d1, and Wnt6). Consistent with the findings in rat tissues, most of the genes were deregulated, albeit to different degrees, in immortalized oral keratinocytes treated with (S)-NNN and in non-treated premalignant oral cells and malignant oral and head and neck squamous cells. Furthermore, interrogation of TCGA data sets showed that genes deregulated by (S)-NNN in rat tissues (Fetub, Ly6e, Nr1d1, Cacna1c, Cd80, and Dgkg) are also altered in esophageal and head and neck tumors. Overall, our findings provide novel insights into early molecular changes induced by (S)-NNN and, therefore, could contribute to the development of biomarkers for the early detection and prevention of (S)-NNN-associated oral and esophageal cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2168-2182
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Carcinogenesis
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant CA-81301 from the National Cancer Institute (to SSH) and Faculty Start-up from Masonic Cancer Center and College of Veterinary Medicine (to FK). We are indebted to Bob Carlson for his editorial assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • N′-nitrosonornicotine
  • RNA sequencing
  • gene expression
  • soluble epoxide hydrolase


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