Over the past two decades, aberrant DNA methylation has emerged as a key player in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and knowledge regarding its biological and clinical consequences in this disease has evolved rapidly. Since the initial studies relating DNA hypomethylation to genomic instability in CLL, a plethora of reports have followed showing the impact of DNA hypermethylation in silencing vital single gene promoters and the reversible nature of DNA methylation through inhibitor drugs. With the recognition that DNA hypermethylation events could potentially act as novel prognostic and treatment targets in CLL, the search for aberrantly methylated genes, gene families and pathways has ensued. Subsequently, the advent of microarray and next-generation sequencing technologies has supported the hunt for such targets, allowing exploration of the methylation landscape in CLL at an unprecedented scale. In light of these analyses, we now understand that different CLL prognostic subgroups are characterized by differential methylation profiles; we recognize DNA methylation of a number of signaling pathways genes to be altered in CLL, and acknowledge the role of DNA methylation outside of traditional CpG island promoters as fundamental players in the regulation of gene expression. Today, the significance and timing of altered DNA methylation within the complex epigenetic network of concomitant epigenetic messengers such as histones and miRNAs is an intensive area of research. In CLL, it appears that DNA methylation is a rather stable epigenetic mark occurring rather early in the disease pathogenesis. However, other consequences, such as how and why aberrant methylation marks occur, are less explored. In this review, we will not only provide a comprehensive summary of the current literature within the epigenetics field of CLL, but also highlight some of the novel findings relating to when, where, why and how altered DNA methylation materializes in CLL.
chronic lymphocytic leukemia; hypomethylation; hypermethylation; CpG islands; gene silencing; microarrays; next-generation sequencing
Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and malignant type of primary brain tumor in adults and prognosis of most GBM patients is poor. However, a small percentage of patients show a long term survival of 36 mo or longer after diagnosis. Epigenetic profiles can provide molecular markers for patient prognosis: recently, a G-CIMP positive phenotype associated with IDH1 mutations has been described for GBMs with good prognosis. In the present analysis we performed genome-wide DNA methylation profiling of short-term survivors (STS; overall survival < 1 y) and long-term survivors (LTS; overall survival > 3 y) by utilizing the HumanMethylation450K BeadChips to assess quantitative methylation at > 480,000 CpG sites. Cluster analysis has shown that a subset of LTS showed a G-CIMP positive phenotype that was tightly associated with IDH1 mutation status and was confirmed by analysis of the G-CIMP signature genes. Using high stringency criteria for differential hypermethylation between non-cancer brain and tumor samples, we identified 2,638 hypermethylated CpG loci (890 genes) in STS GBMs, 3,101 hypermethylated CpG loci (1,062 genes) in LTS (wild type IDH1) and 11,293 hypermethylated CpG loci in LTS (mutated for IDH1), reflecting the CIMP positive phenotype. The location of differentially hypermethylated CpG loci with respect to CpG content, neighborhood context and functional genomic distribution was similar in our sample set, with the majority of CpG loci residing in CpG islands and in gene promoters. Our preliminary study also identified a set of CpG loci differentially hypermethylated between STS and LTS cases, including members of the homeobox gene family (HOXD8, HOXD13 and HOXC4), the transcription factors NR2F2 and TFAP2A, and Dickkopf 2, a negative regulator of the wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway.
DNA methylation; gliomas; IDH1; long-term survivors; short-term survivors
The gene Oct4 encodes a transcription factor critical for the maintenance of pluripotency and self-renewal in embryonic stem cells. In addition, improper re-activation of Oct4 contributes to oncogenic processes. Herein, we describe a novel designer zinc finger protein (ZFP) capable of upregulating the endogenous Oct4 promoter in a panel of breast and ovarian cell lines carrying a silenced gene. In some ovarian tumor lines, the ZFP triggered a strong reactivation of Oct4, with levels of expression comparable with exogenous Oct4 cDNA delivery. Surprisingly, the reactivation of Oct4 required a KRAB domain for effective upregulation of the endogenous gene. While KRAB-containing ZFPs are traditionally described as transcriptional repressors, our results suggest that these proteins could, in certain genomic contexts, function as potent activators and, thus, outline an emerging novel function of KRAB-ZFPs. In addition, we document a novel ZFP that could be used for the epigenetic reprograming of cancer cells.
DNA methylation; artificial transcription factors; Zinc Finger Proteins; KRAB domain; epigenetics; breast cancer; serous epithelial ovarian cancer; Oct4
The histone H2A variant H2AZ is an essential chromatin signaling factor. Herein, we report that H2AZ is monomethylated at lysine 7 (H2AZK7me1) by the lysine methyltransferase SETD6. We observed that methylation of H2AZ increased noticeably upon cellular differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). H2AZK7me1 and the repressive H3K27me3 mark were found near the transcriptional start sites of differentiation marker genes, but were removed upon retinoic acid-induced cellular differentiation. The depletion of Setd6 in mESCs led to cellular differentiation, compromised self-renewal, and poor clonogenicity. These findings demonstrate that mESCs require Setd6 for self-renewal and portray H2AZK7me1 as a marker of cellular differentiation.
embryonic stem cells; histone variant; H2AZ; lysine methylation; SETD6; lysine methyltransferase
The mechanisms by which the placenta adapts to exogenous stimuli to create a stable and healthy environment for the growing fetus are not well known. Low oxygen tension influences placental function, and is associated with preeclampsia, a condition displaying altered development of placental trophoblast. We hypothesized that oxygen tension affects villous trophoblast by modulation of gene expression through DNA methylation. We used the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip array to compare the DNA methylation profile of primary cultures of human cytotrophoblasts and syncytiotrophoblasts under < 1%, 8% and 20% oxygen levels. We found no effect of oxygen tension on average DNA methylation for either cell phenotype, but a set of loci became hypermethylated in cytotrophoblasts exposed for 24 h to < 1% oxygen, as compared with those exposed to 8% or 20% oxygen. Hypermethylation with low oxygen tension was independently confirmed by bisulfite-pyrosequencing in a subset of functionally relevant genes including CD59, CFB, GRAM3 and ZNF217. Intriguingly, 70 out of the 147 CpGs that became hypermethylated in < 1% oxygen overlapped with CpG sites that became hypomethylated upon differentiation of cytotrophoblasts into syncytiotrophoblasts. Furthermore, the preponderance of altered sites was located at AP-1 binding sites. We suggest that AP-1 expression is triggered by hypoxia and interacts with DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) to target methylation at specific sites in the genome, thus causing suppression of the associated genes that are responsible for differentiation of villous cytotrophoblast to syncytiotrophoblast.
DNA methylation; placenta; hypoxia; preeclampsia; AP-1
Deregulated expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) is common and biologically relevant in cervical carcinogenesis and appears only partly related to chromosomal changes. We recently identified 32 miRNAs showing decreased expression in high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and carcinomas not associated with a chromosomal loss, 6 of which were located within a CpG island. This study aimed to investigate to what extent these miRNAs are subject to DNA methylation-mediated transcriptional repression in cervical carcinogenesis.
Methylation-specific PCR (MSP) analysis on a cell line panel representing different stages of human papillomavirus (HPV) induced transformation revealed an increase in methylation of hsa-miR-149, -203 and -375 with progression to malignancy, whereas expression of these miRNAs was restored upon treatment with a demethylating agent. All three miRNAs showed significantly increased levels of methylation in cervical carcinomas, whereas methylation levels of hsa-miR-203 and -375 were also significantly increased in high-grade CIN. A pilot analysis showed that increased hsa-miR-203 methylation was also detectable in HPV-positive cervical scrapes of women with high-grade CIN compared with controls. Similar to recent findings on hsa-miR-375, ectopic expression of hsa-miR-203 in cervical cancer cells decreased both the proliferation rate and anchorage independent growth. We found evidence for methylation-mediated transcriptional repression of hsa-miR-149, -203 and -375 in cervical cancer. Methylation of the latter two was already apparent in precancerous lesions and represent functionally relevant events in HPV-mediated transformation. Increased hsa-miR-203 methylation was detectable in scrapes of women with high-grade CIN, indicating that methylated miRNAs may provide putative markers to assess the presence of (pre)cancerous lesions.
microRNA; squamous cell carcinoma; DNA methylation; CIN lesion; HPV; MSP
Maintenance of ordered chromatin structure over the body of genes is vital for the regulation of transcription. Increased access to the underlying DNA sequence results in the recruitment of RNA polymerase II to inappropriate, promoter-like sites within genes, resulting in unfettered transcription. Two new papers show how the Set2-mediated methylation of histone H3 on Lys36 (H3K36me) maintains chromatin structure by limiting histone dynamics over gene bodies, either by recruiting chromatin remodelers that preserve ordered nucleosomal distribution or by lowering the binding affinity of histone chaperones for histones, preventing their removal.
chromatin; chromatin remodeling; histone acetylation; histone deacetylation; histone methyltransferase
Keap1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1) is an adaptor protein that mediates the ubiquitination/degradation of genes regulating cell survival and apoptosis under oxidative stress conditions. We determined methylation status of the KEAP1 promoter in 102 primary breast cancers, 14 pre-invasive lesions, 38 paired normal breast tissues and 6 normal breast from reductive mammoplasty by quantitative methylation specific PCR (QMSP). Aberrant promoter methylation was detected in 52 out of the 102 primary breast cancer cases (51%) and 10 out of 14 pre-invasive lesions (71%). No mutations of the KEAP1 gene were identified in the 20 breast cancer cases analyzed by fluorescence based direct sequencing. Methylation was more frequent in the subgroup of patients identified as ER positive-HER2 negative tumors (66.7%) as compared with triple-negative breast cancers (35%) (p = 0.05, Chi-square test). The impact of the interactions between Er, PgR, Her2 expression and KEAP1 methylation on mortality was investigated by RECPAM multivariable statistical analysis, identifying four prognostic classes at different mortality risks. Triple-negative breast cancer patients with KEAP1 methylation had higher mortality risk than patients without triple-negative breast cancer (HR = 14.73, 95%CI: 3.65–59.37). Both univariable and multivariable COX regressions analyses showed that KEAP1 methylation was associated with a better progression free survival in patients treated with epirubicin/cyclophosfamide and docetaxel as sequential chemotherapy (HR = 0.082; 95%CI: 0.007–0.934). These results indicate that aberrant promoter methylation of the KEAP1 gene is involved in breast cancerogenesis. In addition, identifying patients with KEAP1 epigenetic abnormalities may contribute to disease progression prediction in breast cancer patients.
breast cancer; KEAP1; prognosis; oxidative stress; methylation; estrogen
Lysine methylation of histone and non-histone substrates by the methyltransferase G9a is mostly associated with transcriptional repression. Recent studies, however, have highlighted its role as an activator of gene expression through mechanisms that are independent of its methyltransferase activity. Here we review the growing repertoire of molecular mechanisms and substrates through which G9a regulates gene expression. We also discuss emerging evidence for its wide-ranging functions in development, pluripotency, cellular differentiation and cell cycle regulation that underscore the complexity of its functions. The deregulated expression of G9a in cancers and other human pathologies suggests that it may be a viable therapeutic target in various diseases.
chromatin modifier; methylation; histones; transcription factors; cancer; differentiation; gene expression; transcription
The SWI/SNF-like chromatin remodeler ATRX has recently garnered renewed attention. ATRX mutations were first identified in patients bearing the syndrome after which it is named, alpha thalassemia/mental retardation, X-linked. While ATRX has long been implicated in transcriptional regulation through multiple mechanisms, recent studies have identified a role for ATRX in the regulation of histone variant deposition. In addition, current reports describe ATRX to be mutated at high percentages in multiple tumor types, suggestive of a potential ‘driver’ role in cancer. Here we discuss the numerous and seemingly diverse roles for ATRX in transcriptional regulation and histone deposition and suggest that ATRX’s effects are mediated by its regulation of histones within the chromatin template.
ATRX; histone variants; macroH2A and H3.3; telomeres; α-globin
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) incidence has increased in the US and also has one of the fastest growing death rates of any cancer. The purpose of the current study was to discover novel genome-wide aberrant DNA methylation patterns in HCC tumors that are predominantly HCV-related. Infinium HumanMethylation 450K BeadChip arrays were used to examine genome-wide DNA methylation profiles in 66 pairs of HCC tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues. After Bonferroni adjustment, a total of 130,512 CpG sites significantly differed in methylation level in tumor compared with non-tumor tissues, with 28,017 CpG sites hypermethylated and 102,495 hypomethylated in tumor tissues. Absolute tumor/non-tumor methylation differences ≥ 20% were found in 24.9% of the hypermethylated and 43.1% of the hypomethylated CpG sites; almost 10,000 CpG sites have ≥ 30% DNA methylation differences. Most (60.1%) significantly hypermethylated CpG sites are located in CpG islands, with 21.6% in CpG shores and 3.6% in shelves. In contrast, only a small proportion (8.2%) of significantly hypomethylated CpG sites are situated in islands, while most are found in open sea (60.2%), shore (17.3%) or shelf (14.3%) regions. A total of 2,568 significant CpG sites (2,441 hypermethylated and 127 hypomethylated) covering 589 genes are located within 684 differentially methylated regions defined as regions with at least two significant CpG sites displaying > 20% methylation differences in the same direction within 250-bp. The top 500 significant CpG sites can significantly distinguish HCC tumor from adjacent tissues with one misclassification. Within adjacent non-tumor tissues, we also identified 75 CpG sites significantly associated with gender, 228 with HCV infection, 17,207 with cirrhosis, and 56 with both HCV infection and cirrhosis after multiple comparisons adjustment. Aberrant DNA methylation profiles across the genome were identified in tumor tissues from US HCC cases that are predominantly related to HCV infection. These results demonstrate the significance of aberrant DNA methylation in HCC tumorigenesis.
genome-wide; DNA methylation; alterations; hepatocellular carcinoma; 450K BeadChips
DNA methylation is linked to homocysteine metabolism through the generation of S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and S-Adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy). The ratio of AdoMet/AdoHcy is often considered an indicator of tissue methylation capacity. The goal of this study is to determine the relationship of tissue AdoMet and AdoHcy concentrations to allele-specific methylation and expression of genomically imprinted H19/Igf2. Expression of H19/Igf2 is regulated by a differentially methylated domain (DMD), with H19 paternally imprinted and Igf2 maternally imprinted. F1 hybrid C57BL/6J x Castaneous/EiJ (Cast) mice with (+/−), and without (+/+), heterozygous disruption of cystathionine-β-synthase (Cbs) were fed a control diet or a diet (called HH) to induce hyperhomocysteinemia and changes in tissue AdoMet and AdoHcy. F1 Cast x Cbs+/− mice fed the HH diet had significantly higher plasma total homocysteine concentrations, higher liver AdoHcy, and lower AdoMet/AdoHcy ratios and this was accompanied by lower liver maternal H19 DMD allele methylation, lower liver Igf2 mRNA levels, and loss of Igf2 maternal imprinting. In contrast, we found no significant differences in AdoMet and AdoHcy in brain between the diet groups but F1 Cast x Cbs+/− mice fed the HH diet had higher maternal H19 DMD methylation and lower H19 mRNA levels in brain. A significant negative relationship between AdoHcy and maternal H19 DMD allele methylation was found in liver but not in brain. These findings suggest the relationship of AdoMet and AdoHcy to gene-specific DNA methylation is tissue-specific and that changes in DNA methylation can occur without changes in AdoMet and AdoHcy.
homocysteine; genomic imprinting; DNA methylation; gene expression; H19; Igf2; tissue-specific; allele-specific
Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents approximately 80% of all types of lung cancer. Here, we report the chemotherapeutic effect of honokiol, a phytochemical from Magnolia grandiflora, on NSCLC cells and the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects using in vitro and in vivo models. Treatment of NSCLC cells (A549, H1299, H460 and H226) with honokiol (20, 40 and 60 µM) inhibited histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity, reduced the levels of class I HDAC proteins and enhanced histone acetyltransferase activity in a dose-dependent manner. These effects of honokiol were associated with a significant reduction in the viability of NSCLC cells. Concomitant treatment of cells with a proteasome inhibitor, MG132, prevented honokiol-induced degradation of class I HDACs, suggesting that honokiol reduced the levels of HDACs in NSCLC cells through proteasomal degradation. Valproic acid, an inhibitor of HDACs, exhibited a similar pattern of reduced viability and induction of death of NSCLC cells. Treatment of A549 and H1299 cells with honokiol resulted in an increase in G1 phase arrest, and a decrease in the levels of cyclin D1, D2 and cyclin dependent kinases. Further, administration of honokiol by oral gavage significantly inhibited the growth of subcutaneous A549 and H1299 tumor xenografts in athymic nude mice, which was associated with the induction of apoptotic cell death and marked inhibition of class I HDACs proteins and HDAC activity in the tumor xenograft tissues. Together, our study provides new insights into the role of class I HDACs in the chemotherapeutic effects of honokiol on lung cancer cells.
apoptotic index; cell cycle; histone; histone deacetylase; histone acetyl transferase; honokiol; non-small cell lung cancer
The human activating receptor NKG2D is mainly expressed by NK, NKT, γδ T and CD8+ T cells and, under certain conditions, by CD4+ T cells. This receptor recognizes a diverse family of ligands (MICA, MICB and ULBPs 1–6) leading to the activation of effector cells and triggering the lysis of target cells. The NKG2D receptor-ligand system plays an important role in the immune response to infections, tumors, transplanted graft and autoantigens. Elucidation of the regulatory mechanisms of NKG2D is therefore essential for therapeutic purposes. In this study, we speculate whether epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation, participate in NKG2D gene regulation in T lymphocytes and NK cells. DNA methylation in the NKG2D gene was observed in CD4+ T lymphocytes and T cell lines (Jurkat and HUT78), while this gene was unmethylated in NKG2D-positive cells (CD8+ T lymphocytes, NK cells and NKL cell line) and associated with high levels of histone H3 lysine 9 acetylation (H3K9Ac). Treatment with the histone acetyltransferase (HAT) inhibitor curcumin reduces H3K9Ac levels in the NKG2D gene, downregulates NKG2D transcription and leads to a marked reduction in the lytic capacity of NKG2D-mediated NKL cells. These findings suggest that differential NKG2D expression in the different cell subsets is regulated by epigenetic mechanisms and that its modulation by epigenetic treatments might provide a new strategy for treating several pathologies.
NKG2D receptor; KLRK1 gene; DNA methylation; H3K9 acetylation; cytotoxicity; curcumin
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is sustained by a population of cancer stem cells (CSCs or cancer-initiating cell). The mechanisms underlying switches from CSCs to non-CSCs in vivo remain to be understood. We address this issue in AML from the aspect of epigenetics using genome-wide screening for DNA methylation and selected histone modifications. We found no major differences in DNA methylation, especially in promoter CpG islands, between CSCs and non-CSCs. By contrast, we found thousands of genes that change H3K4me3 and/or H3K27me3 status between stem and progenitor cells as well as between progenitor and mature cells. Stem cell related pathways and proliferation or metabolism related pathways characterize genes differentially enriched for H3K4me3/H3K27me3 in stem and progenitor populations. Bivalent genes in stem cells are more plastic during differentiation and are more likely to lose H3K4me3 than to lose H3K27me3, consistent with increasingly closed chromatin state with differentiation. Our data indicates that histone modifications but not promoter DNA methylation are involved in switches from CSCs to non-CSCs in AML.
DNA methylation; histone modification; AML; stem; progenitor
The interplay of metabolism and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms has become a focal point for a better understanding of cancer development and progression. In this study, we have acquired data supporting previous observations that demonstrate glutamine metabolism affects histone modifications in human breast cancer cell lines. Treatment of non-invasive epithelial (T-47D and MDA-MB-361) and invasive mesenchymal (MDA-MB-231 and Hs-578T) breast cancer cell lines with the glutaminase inhibitor, Compound 968, resulted in cytotoxicity in all cell lines, with the greatest effect being observed in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Compound 968-treatment induced significant downregulation of 20 critical cancer-related genes, the majority of which are anti-apoptotic and/or promote metastasis, including AKT, BCL2, BCL2L1, CCND1, CDKN3, ERBB2, ETS1, E2F1, JUN, KITLG, MYB, and MYC. Histone H3K4me3, a mark of transcriptional activation, was reduced at the promoters of all but one of these critical cancer genes. The decrease in histone H3K4me3 at global and gene-specific levels correlated with reduced expression of SETD1 and ASH2L, genes encoding the histone H3K4 methyltransferase complex. Further, the expression of other epigenetic regulatory genes, known to be downregulated during apoptosis (e.g., DNMT1, DNMT3B, SETD1 and SIRT1), was also downregulated by Compound 968. These changes in gene expression and histone modifications were accompanied by the activation of apoptosis, and decreased invasiveness and resistance of MDA-MB-231 cells to chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin. The results of this study provide evidence to a link between cytotoxicity caused by inhibiting glutamine metabolism with alterations of the epigenome of breast cancer cells and suggest that modification of intracellular metabolism may enhance the efficiency of epigenetic therapy.
breast cancer; glutamine metabolism; histone modifications; gene expression
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) can be divided into prognostic subgroups based on the IGHV gene mutational status, and is further characterized by multiple subsets of cases with quasi-identical or stereotyped B cell receptors that also share clinical and biological features. We recently reported differential DNA methylation profiles in IGHV-mutated and IGHV-unmutated CLL subgroups. For the first time, we here explore the global methylation profiles of stereotyped subsets with different prognosis, by applying high-resolution methylation arrays on CLL samples from three major stereotyped subsets: the poor-prognostic subsets #1 (n = 15) and #2 (n = 9) and the favorable-prognostic subset #4 (n = 15). Overall, the three subsets exhibited significantly different methylation profiles, which only partially overlapped with those observed in our previous study according to IGHV gene mutational status. Specifically, gene ontology analysis of the differentially methylated genes revealed a clear enrichment of genes involved in immune response, such as B cell activation (e.g., CD80, CD86 and IL10), with higher methylation levels in subset #1 than subsets #2 and #4. Accordingly, higher expression of the co-stimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86 was demonstrated in subset #4 vs. subset #1, pointing to a key role for these molecules in the crosstalk of CLL subset #4 cells with the microenvironment. In summary, investigation of three prototypic, stereotyped CLL subsets revealed distinct DNA methylation profiles for each subset, which suggests subset-biased patterns of transcriptional control and highlights a key role for epigenetics during leukemogenesis.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; DNA methylation; microarrays; stereotyped B cell receptors; immune response
Genome wide analysis of DNA methylation provides important information in a variety of diseases, including cancer. Here, we describe a simple method, Digital Restriction Enzyme Analysis of Methylation (DREAM), based on next generation sequencing analysis of methylation-specific signatures created by sequential digestion of genomic DNA with SmaI and XmaI enzymes. DREAM provides information on 150,000 unique CpG sites, of which 39,000 are in CpG islands and 30,000 are at transcription start sites of 13,000 RefSeq genes. We analyzed DNA methylation in healthy white blood cells and found methylation patterns to be remarkably uniform. Inter individual differences > 30% were observed only at 227 of 28,331 (0.8%) of autosomal CpG sites. Similarly, > 30% differences were observed at only 59 sites when we comparing the cord and adult blood. These conserved methylation patterns contrasted with extensive changes affecting 18–40% of CpG sites in a patient with acute myeloid leukemia and in two leukemia cell lines. The method is cost effective, quantitative (r2 = 0.93 when compared with bisulfite pyrosequencing) and reproducible (r2 = 0.997). Using 100-fold coverage, DREAM can detect differences in methylation greater than 10% or 30% with a false positive rate below 0.05 or 0.001, respectively. DREAM can be useful in quantifying epigenetic effects of environment and nutrition, correlating developmental epigenetic variation with phenotypes, understanding epigenetics of cancer and chronic diseases, measuring the effects of drugs on DNA methylation or deriving new biological insights into mammalian genomes.
DNA methylation; cord blood; leukemia; next generation sequencing; restriction enzymes; white blood cell
Satellite cells function as skeletal muscle stem cells to support postnatal muscle growth and regeneration following injury or disease. There is great promise for the improvement of muscle performance in livestock and for the therapy of muscle pathologies in humans by the targeting of myostatin (MSTN) in this cell population. Human diet contains many histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, such as the bioactive component sulforaphane (SFN), whose epigenetic effects on MSTN gene in satellite cells are unknown. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the epigenetic influences of SFN on the MSTN gene in satellite cells. The present work provides the first evidence, which is distinct from the effects of trichostatin A (TSA), that SFN supplementation in vitro not only acts as a HDAC inhibitor but also as a DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitor in porcine satellite cells. Compared with TSA and 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC), SFN treatment significantly represses MSTN expression, accompanied by strongly attenuated expression of negative feedback inhibitors of the MSTN signaling pathway. miRNAs targeting MSTN are not implicated in posttranscriptional regulation of MSTN. Nevertheless, a weakly enriched myoblast determination (MyoD) protein associated with diminished histone acetylation in the MyoD binding site located in the MSTN promoter region may contribute to the transcriptional repression of MSTN by SFN. These findings reveal a new mode of epigenetic repression of MSTN by the bioactive compound SFN. This novel pharmacological, biological activity of SFN in satellite cells may thus allow for the development of novel approaches to weaken the MSTN signaling pathway, both for therapies of human skeletal muscle disorders and for livestock production improvement.
Sulforaphane; satellite cell; myostatin; epigenetic repression; pig
Immune factors are thought to influence glioma risk and outcomes, but immune profiling studies to further our understanding of the immune response are limited by current immunodiagnostic methods. We developed a new assay to capture glioma immune biology based on quantitative methylation specific PCR (qMSP) of two T-cell genes (CD3Z: T-cells, and FOXP3: Tregs). Flow cytometry of T-cells correlated well with the CD3Z demethylation assay (r = 0.93; p < 2.2 × 10−16), demonstrating the validity of the assay. Furthermore, there was a high correlation between qMSP and immunohistochemistry (IHC) in quantifying tumor infiltrating T-cells (r = 0.85; p = 3.4 × 10−11). Applying our qMSP methods to archival whole blood from 65 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cases and 94 non-diseased controls, GBM cases had highly statistically significantly lower T-cells (p = 1.7 × 10−9) as well as Tregs (p = 5.2 × 10−11) and a modestly lower ratio of Tregs/T-cells (p = 0.024). Applying the methods to 120 excised glioma tumors, we observed that tumor infiltrating CD3+ T-cells were positively correlated with glioma tumor grade (p = 5.7 × 10−7), and that Tregs were enriched in tumors compared with peripheral blood indicating active chemoattraction of suppressive Tregs into the tumor compartment. Poorer patient survival was correlated with higher levels of tumor infiltrating T-cells (p = 0.01) and Tregs (p = 0.04). DNA methylation based immunodiagnostics represent a new generation of powerful laboratory tools offering many advantages over conventional methods that will facilitate large clinical epidemiologic studies and capitalize on stored archival blood and tissue banks.
DNA methylation; glioma; Tregs; T-cells; biomarkers
Regulation of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) levels is an important stress adaptation mechanism. Transcription factor Nfgi-a and environmentally induced Gr promoter 17 methylation have been implicated in fine-tuning the expression of Gr 17 transcripts. Here, we investigated Gr promoter 17 methylation and Gr 17 expression in adult rats exposed to either acute or chronic stress paradigms. A strong negative correlation was observed between the sum of promoter-wide methylation levels and Gr 17 transcript levels, independent of the stressor. Methylation of individual sites did not, however, correlate with transcript levels. This suggested that promoter 17 was directly regulated by promoter-wide DNA methylation. Although acute stress increased Ngfi-a expression in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), Gr 17 transcript levels remained unaffected despite low methylation levels. Acute stress had little effect on these low methylation levels, except at four hippocampal CpGs. Chronic stress altered the corticosterone response to an acute stressor. In the adrenal and pituitary glands, but not in the brain, this was accompanied by an increase in methylation levels in orchestrated clusters rather than individual CpGs. PVN methylation levels, unaffected by acute or chronic stress, were significantly more variable within- than between-groups, suggesting that they were instated probably during the perinatal period and represent a pre-established trait. Thus, in addition to the known perinatal programming, the Gr 17 promoter is epigenetically regulated by chronic stress in adulthood, and retains promoter-wide tissue-specific plasticity. Differences in methylation susceptibility between the PVN in the perinatal period and the peripheral HPA axis tissues in adulthood may represent an important “trait” vs. “state” regulation of the Gr gene.
glucocorticoid receptors; behavioral epigenetics; DNA methylation; HPA axis; adult rats
Mature microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs involved in posttranslational gene silencing. Previous studies found that downregulation of miRNAs is a common feature observed in solid tumors, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We employed a genome-wide approach to test the hypothesis that DNA methylation alterations in miRNA host genes may cause deregulated miRNA expression in HCC. We analyzed tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues from 62 Taiwanese HCC cases using Infinium HumanMethylation27 DNA Analysis BeadChips that include 254 CpG sites covering 110 miRNAs from 64 host genes. Expression levels of three identified miRNAs (miR-10a, miR-10b and miR-196b) were measured in a subset of 37 HCC tumor and non-tumor tissues. After Bonferroni adjustment, a total of 54 CpG sites from 27 host genes significantly differed in DNA methylation levels between tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues with 53 sites significantly hypermethylated in tumor tissues. Among the 54 significant CpG sites, 15 sites had more than 2-fold tumor/non-tumor changes, 17 sites had differences > 10%, and 10 sites had both features [including 8 significantly hypermethylated CpG sites in the host genes of miR-10a, miR-10b and miR-196b (HOXB4, HOXD4 and HOXA9, respectively)]. Significant downregulation of miR-10a was observed in tumor compared with non-tumor tissues (0.50 vs. 1.73, p = 0.031). The concordance for HOXB4 methylation alteration and dysregulation of miR-10a was 73.5%. No significant change was observed for miR-10b expression. Unexpectedly, miR-196b was significantly upregulated in tumor compared with non-tumor tissues (p = 0.0001). These data suggest that aberrant DNA methylation may lead to dysregulation of miR-10a in HCC tumor tissues.
HCC; genome-wide; host gene; microRNA; DNA methylation
Tumors are capable of shedding DNA into the blood stream. This shed DNA may be recovered from serum or plasma. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether pyrosequencing promoter DNA in a panel of 12 breast cancer-related genes (APC, BRCA1, CCND2, CDH1, ESR1, GSTP1, HIN1, P16, RARβ, RASSF1, SFRP1 and TWIST) to measure the degree of methylation would lead to a useful serum-based marker of breast cancer. Serum was obtained from women who were about to undergo a breast biopsy or mastectomy at three hospitals from 1977 to 1987 in Grand Rapids, MI USA. We compared the methylation status of 12 genes in serum DNA obtained from three groups of postmenopausal women (mean age at blood collection: 63.0 y; SD 9.9; range 35–91): breast cancer cases with lymph node-positive disease (n = 241); breast cancer cases with lymph node-negative disease (n = 63); and benign breast disease control subjects (n = 234). Overall, median levels of promoter methylation were low, typically below 5%, for all genes in all study groups. For all genes, median levels of methylation were higher (by 3.3 to 47.6%) in lymph node-positive breast cancer cases than in the controls. Comparing mean methylation level between lymph-node positive cases and controls, the most statistically significant findings, after adjustment of the false-positive rate (q-value), were for TWIST (p = 0.04), SFRP1 (p = 0.16), ESR1 (p = 0.17), P16 (p = 0.19) and APC (p = 0.19). For two of these four genes (TWIST, P16), the median methylation level was also highest in lymph-node positive cases, intermediate in lymph node-negative cases and lowest in the controls. The percent of study subjects with mean methylation scores ≥ 5% was higher among lymph node-positive cases than controls for ten genes, and significantly higher for HIN1 and TWIST (22.0 vs. 12.2%, p = 0.04 and 37.9 vs. 24.5%, p = 0.004, respectively). Despite relatively consistent variation in methylation patterns among groups, these modest differences did not provide sufficient ability to distinguish between cases and controls in a clinical setting.
serum DNA; breast cancer; promoter methylation; early marker; pyrosequencing
Epigenetic modifications, such as aberrant DNA promoter methylation, are frequently observed in cervical cancer. Identification of hypermethylated regions allowing discrimination between normal cervical epithelium and high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN2/3), or worse, may improve current cervical cancer population-based screening programs. In this study, the DNA methylome of high-grade CIN lesions was studied using genome-wide DNA methylation screening to identify potential biomarkers for early diagnosis of cervical neoplasia. Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) combined with DNA microarray was used to compare DNA methylation profiles of epithelial cells derived from high-grade CIN lesions with normal cervical epithelium. Hypermethylated differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified. Validation of nine selected DMRs using BSP and MSP in cervical tissue revealed methylation in 63.2–94.7% high-grade CIN and in 59.3–100% cervical carcinomas. QMSP for the two most significant high-grade CIN-specific methylation markers was conducted exploring test performance in a large series of cervical scrapings. Frequency and relative level of methylation were significantly different between normal and cancer samples. Clinical validation of both markers in cervical scrapings from patients with an abnormal cervical smear confirmed that frequency and relative level of methylation were related with increasing severity of the underlying CIN lesion and that ROC analysis was discriminative. These markers represent the COL25A1 and KATNAL2 and their observed increased methylation upon progression could intimate the regulatory role in carcinogenesis. In conclusion, our newly identified hypermethylated DMRs represent specific DNA methylation patterns in high-grade CIN lesions and are candidate biomarkers for early detection.
cervical precancerous lesion; DNA methylation; MeDIP-chip; cervical scraping
Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3 (TIMP3) is a tumor suppressor gene frequently downregulated in prostate cancer. The mechanisms involved in TIMP3 transcriptional repression are not fully understood, but evidence suggests that promoter hypermethylation may not be the predominant epigenetic alteration in prostate cancer. To clarify this issue, we examined the contribution of both CpG site promoter methylation and histone modifications on TIMP3 downregulation. Using publicly available data sets, we confirmed that TIMP3 mRNA expression is decreased in prostate tumors relative to normal glands. Immunohistochemical analysis also showed decreased TIMP3 levels in high-grade primary tumors, but promoter hypermethylation was only detected in 6 of 28 (21%) high-grade specimens. Similarly, in prostate cancer cells, TIMP3 hypermethylation was only observed in DU145 cells. Treatment of DU145 cells with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-CdR) restored TIMP3 expression, and this was significantly amplified by co-treating the cells with the HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA). Alternatively, in cells that did not exhibit aberrant TIMP3 methylation (LNCaP and PC3), TIMP3 expression could be upregulated by the combination of histone methylation inhibitor 3-Deazaneplanocin A (DZNep) and TSA. This reversal of transcriptional repression was associated with decreased H3K27me3 and increased H3K9ac histone marks at the TIMP3 promoter, as demonstrated by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Collectively, these results indicate that histone modifications can contribute to TIMP3 repression in the absence of promoter hypermethylation, and suggest that the combination of histone modifying agents could restore TIMP3 expression in prostate tumors harboring aberrant histone modifications at the TIMP3 promoter.
prostate cancer; TIMP3; DNA methylation; histone modifications; epigenetic drugs