The utilisation of genome-wide transcriptomics has played a pivotal role in advancing the field of toxicology, allowing the mapping of transcriptional signatures to chemical exposures. These activities have uncovered several transcriptionally regulated pathways that can be utilised for assessing the perturbation impact of a chemical and also the identification of toxic mode of action. However, current transcriptomic platforms are not very amenable to high-throughput workflows due to, high cost, complexities in sample preparation and relatively complex bioinformatic analysis. Thus, transcriptomic investigations are usually limited in dose and time dimensions and are, therefore, not optimal for implementation in risk assessment workflows. In this study, we investigated a new cost-effective, transcriptomic assay, TempO-Seq, which alleviates the aforementioned limitations. This technique was evaluated in a 6-compound screen, utilising differentiated kidney (RPTEC/TERT1) and liver (HepaRG) cells and compared to non-transcriptomic label-free sensitive endpoints of chemical-induced disturbances, namely phase contrast morphology, xCELLigence and glycolysis. Non-proliferating cell monolayers were exposed to six sub-lethal concentrations of each compound for 24 h. The results show that utilising a 2839 gene panel, it is possible to discriminate basal tissue-specific signatures, generate dose-response relationships and to discriminate compound-specific and cell type-specific responses. This study also reiterates previous findings that chemical-induced transcriptomic alterations occur prior to cytotoxicity and that transcriptomics provides in depth mechanistic information of the effects of chemicals on cellular transcriptional responses. TempO-Seq is a robust transcriptomic platform that is well suited for in vitro toxicity experiments.
Keywords: Dedifferentiation; HepaRG; RPTEC/TERT1; Stress responses; TempO-Seq.