Chronic exposure to cigarette smoke markedly increases the risk for lung cancer. Regulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by miRNAs influences a variety of cancer-related interactomes. Yet, relatively little is known on the effects of long-term cigarette smoke exposure on miRNA expression and gene regulation. NCI-H292 (H292) is a cell line sensitive to cigarette smoke with mucoepidermoid characteristics in culture. We report, in this study, original observations on long-term (12 months) cigarette smoke effects in the H292 cell line, using microarray-based miRNA expression profiling, and stable isotopic labeling with amino acids in cell culture-based quantitative proteomic analysis. We identified 112 upregulated and 147 downregulated miRNAs (by twofold) in cigarette smoke-treated H292 cells. The liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis identified 3,959 proteins, of which, 303 proteins were overexpressed and 112 proteins downregulated (by twofold). We observed 39 miRNA target pairs (proven targets) that were differentially expressed in response to chronic cigarette smoke exposure. Gene ontology analysis of the target proteins revealed enrichment of proteins in biological processes driving metabolism, cell communication, and nucleic acid metabolism. Pathway analysis revealed the enrichment of phagosome maturation, antigen presentation pathway, nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2-mediated oxidative stress response, and cholesterol biosynthesis pathways in cigarette smoke-exposed cells. In conclusion, this report makes an important contribution to knowledge on molecular changes in a lung cell line in response to long term cigarette smoke exposure. The findings might inform future strategies for drug target, biomarker and diagnostics innovation in lung cancer, and clinical oncology. These observations also call for further research on the extent to which continuing or stopping cigarette smoking in patients diagnosed with lung cancer translates into molecular and clinical outcomes.
Keywords: biomarkers; cigarette smoke; diagnostics; lung cancer; miRNA profiling.