Assessing the Effects of Environmental Chemicals on Epigenetic Regulation Via Machine Learning

Authors: 
Min, A., Purdue University
Sanchez, O. F., Purdue University
Yuan, C., Purdue University
Exposure to environmental chemicals, such as heavy metals and pesticides, can increase the disease risks for cancers and neurodegenerative diseases via an epigenetic mechanism. Their exact role in epigenetic regulation, however, remains unknown. Using our recently developed live cell epigenetic probes, we tracked changes in cellular epigenetic features induced by selected environmental chemicals, i.e., Pb and Atrazine, as well as, well-studied epigenetic drugs, i.e., RG108 and sodium butyrate. PCA and t-SNE analysis were used to reduce dimensionality and then visualize differences in cell images induced by various treatments. We then employed machine learning techniques to classify differences between cells at various concentrations of treatments. The effects of environmental chemicals were compared to those of well-characterized epigenetic drugs. The comparison will be used to infer the role of environmental chemicals in epigenetic regulation. The collective information can not only elucidate the role of environmental chemicals in epigenetic regulation, but may lead to the identification of epigenetic targets that can be used to mitigate long-term disease risk affiliated with exposures.