Toxicity of drinking water disinfection byproducts: Cell cycle alterations induced by the monohaloacetonitriles

Yukako Komaki, Benito J. Mariñas, Michael J. Plewa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Haloacetonitriles (HANs) are a chemical class of drinking water disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that form from reactions between disinfectants and nitrogen-containing precursors, the latter more prevalent in water sources impacted by algae bloom and municipal wastewater effluent discharge. HANs, previously demonstrated to be genotoxic, were investigated for their effects on the mammalian cell cycle. Treating Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells with monoHANs followed by the release from the chemical treatment resulted in the accumulation of abnormally high DNA content in cells over time (hyperploid). The potency for the cell cycle alteration followed the order: iodoacetonitrile (IAN) > bromoacetonitrile (BAN) 蠑 chloroacetonitrile (CAN). Exposure to 6 μM IAN, 12 μM BAN and 900 μM CAN after 26 h post-treatment incubation resulted in DNA repair; however, subsequent cell cycle alteration effects were observed. Cell proliferation of HAN-treated cells was suppressed for as long as 43 to 52 h. Enlarged cell size was observed after 52 h post-treatment incubation without the induction of cytotoxicity. The HAN-mediated cell cycle alteration was mitosis- and proliferation-dependent, which suggests that HAN treatment induced mitosis override, and that HAN-treated cells proceeded into S phase and directly into the next cell cycle. Cells with multiples genomes would result in aneuploidy (state of abnormal chromosome number and DNA content) at the next mitosis since extra centrosomes could compromise the assembly of bipolar spindles. There is accumulating evidence of a transient tetraploid state proceeding to aneuploidy in cancer progression. Biological self-defense systems to ensure genomic stability and to eliminate tetraploid cells exist in eukaryotic cells. A key tumor suppressor gene, p53, is oftentimes mutated in various types of human cancer. It is possible that HAN disruption of the normal cell cycle and the generation of aberrant cells with an abnormal number of chromosomes may contribute to cancer induction and perhaps be involved in the induction of adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with long-term consumption of disinfected water. Here we present the first observation of the induction of hyperploidy by a class of DBPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11662-11669
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 7 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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