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Presentation Time: 10:15-10:35
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Fry, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Program: 21st Century Environmental Health Scholars
Research Title: Examining the Effects of Inorganic Arsenic on Chromatin Accessibility in Placental Cells Using ATAC-seq

Inorganic arsenic (iAs) is a ubiquitous toxic metal in the environment known to be detrimental to human health. More than 100 million people, including those in the United States, are at risk of exposure that exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommended limit of 10 parts per billion (ppb). Prenatal exposure to iAs is a global public health concern as iAs can cross the placental barrier and cause genomic and epigenomic perturbations in the fetus leading to developmental and later onset effects. Adverse health outcomes such as low birth weight and cancers have been linked to iAs exposure. In this study, we exposed JEG-3 placental choriocarcinoma cells to varying iAs doses for 24 hours. The Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin with high-throughput sequencing (ATAC-seq) was then used to identify open regions of chromatin. We observed that iAs modified the chromatin structure differentially across the genome with potential effects on gene activation or silencing. A 3% difference in chromatin accessibility was observed across the entire genome when comparing the highest dosage to the controls. Future research will investigate the gene-specific locations of chromatin accessibility. Our findings provide mechanistic insight into the toxicity of iAs on human placental cells. These data are relevant to the known effects of prenatal exposure to iAs on fetal development and provide support for the Developmental Origins of Health and Human Diseases (DOHaD) hypothesis.