ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202208.0497.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: oxygen; physioxia; hyperoxia; cell culture; transcriptomics; differential gene expression
Online: 29 August 2022 (14:46:44 CEST)
Standard cell culture is routinely performed at supraphysiological oxygen concentrations (~18% O2). Conversely, oxygen levels in most tissues range from 1%–6% (physioxia). Such hyperoxic conditions can alter reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, energy metabolism, mitochondrial network dynamics, and response to drugs and hormones. The aim of this project was to investigate the transcriptional response to different oxygen levels and whether it is similar across cell lines, or cell-line specific. Using RNA-seq, we performed differential gene expression and functional enrichment analyses in four human cancer cell lines, LNCaP, Huh-7, PC-3, and SH-SY5Y cultured at either 5% or 18% oxygen for 14 days. We found that oxygen levels affected transcript abundance of hundreds of genes, with the affected genes having little overlap between cell lines. Functional enrichment analysis also revealed different processes and pathways being affected in each cell line. Interestingly, we found that the top differentially expressed genes are involved in cancer biology. Further, we observed several hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) targets upregulated at 5% oxygen, suggesting a role of HIF at physiological oxygen conditions. Finally, oxygen strongly induced transcription of mitochondrial genes in most cell lines, in a cell-type specific manner too. We conclude that cellular response to oxygen is widely cell-type specific, emphasizing the importance of maintaining physioxia in cell culture.