Dynamics of the transcriptome response of cultured human embryonic stem cells to ionizing radiation exposure.
One of the key consequences of exposure of human cells to genotoxic agents is the activation of DNA damage responses (DDR). While the mechanisms underpinning DDR in fully differentiated somatic human cells have been studied extensively, molecular signaling events and pathways involved in DDR in pluripotent human embryonic stem cells (hESC) remain largely unexplored. We studied changes in the human genome-wide transcriptome of H9 hESC line following exposures to 1Gy of gamma-radiation at 2h and 16h post-irradiation. Quantitative real-time PCR was performed to verify the expression data for a subset of genes. In parallel, the cell growth, DDR kinetics, and expression of pluripotency markers in irradiated hESC were monitored. The changes in gene expression in hESC after exposure to ionizing radiation (IR) are substantially different from those observed in somatic human cell lines. Gene expression patterns at 2h post-IR showed almost an exclusively p53-dependent, predominantly pro-apoptotic, signature with a total of only 30 up-regulated genes. In contrast, the gene expression patterns at 16h post-IR showed 354 differentially expressed genes, mostly involved in pro-survival pathways, such as increased expression of metallothioneins, ubiquitin cycle, and general metabolism signaling. Cell growth data paralleled trends in gene expression changes. DDR in hESC followed the kinetics reported for human somatic differentiated cells. The expression of pluripotency markers characteristic of undifferentiated hESC was not affected by exposure to IR during the time course of our analysis. Our data on dynamics of transcriptome response of irradiated hESCs may provide a valuable tool to screen for markers of IR exposure of human cells in their most naive state; thus unmasking the key elements of DDR; at the same time, avoiding the complexity of interpreting distinct cell type-dependent genotoxic stress responses of terminally differentiated cells. Published by Elsevier B.V.