Pesticide exposure has repeatedly been associated with cancers. However, molecular mechanisms are largely undetermined. In this study, we examined whether exposure to diazinon, a common organophosphate that has been associated with cancers, could induce DNA methylation alterations. We conducted genome-wide DNA methylation analyses on DNA samples obtained from human hematopoietic K562 cell exposed to diazinon and ethanol using the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation27 BeadChip. Bayesian-adjusted t-tests were used to identify differentially methylated gene promoter CpG sites. We identified 1069 CpG sites in 984 genes with significant methylation changes in diazinon-treated cells. Gene ontology analysis demonstrated that some genes are tumor suppressor genes, such as TP53INP1 (3.0-fold, q-value <0.001) and PTEN (2.6-fold, q-value <0.001), some genes are in cancer-related pathways, such as HDAC3 (2.2-fold, q-value=0.002), and some remain functionally unknown. Our results provided direct experimental evidence that diazinon may modify gene promoter DNA methylation levels, which may play a pathological role in cancer development.
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