Arsenic silences hepatic PDK4 expression through activation of histone H3K9 methylatransferase G9a

Xi Zhang, Jianguo Wu, Jonathan Choiniere, Zhihong Yang, Yi Huang, Jason Bennett, Li Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


It is well established that increased liver cancer incidence is strongly associated with epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes; the latter is contributed by the environmental exposure to arsenic. Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4) is a mitochondrial protein that regulates the TCA cycle. However, the epigenetic mechanisms mediated by arsenic to control PDK4 expression remain elusive. In the present study, we showed that histone methyltransferase G9a- and Suv39H-mediated histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylations contributed to PDK4 silencing in hepatic cells. The PDK4 expression was induced by G9a inhibitor BRD4770 (BRD) and Suv39H inhibitor Chaetocin (CHA). In contrast, arsenic exposure decreased PDK4 expression by inducing G9a and increasing H3K9 di- and tri-methylations levels (H3K9me2/3). In addition, arsenic exposure antagonizes the effect of BRD by enhancing the enrichment of H3K9me2/3 in the PKD4 promoter. Moreover, knockdown of G9a using siRNA induced PDK4 expression in HCC cells. Furthermore, arsenic decreased hepatic PDK4 expression as well as diminished the induction of PDK4 by BRD in mouse liver and hepatocytes. Overall, the results suggest that arsenic causes aberrant repressive histone modification to silence PDK4 in both HCC cells and in mouse liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-47
Number of pages6
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
StatePublished - 2016


  • Arsenic
  • BRD4770
  • G9a
  • H3K9 methylation
  • PDK4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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