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1.  Interplay of chromatin modifications and non-coding RNAs in the heart 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):101-112.
Precisely regulated patterns of gene expression are dependent on the binding of transcription factors and chromatin-associated determinants referred to as co-activators and co-repressors. These regulatory components function with the core transcriptional machinery to serve in critical activities to alter chromatin modification and regulate gene expression. While we are beginning to understand that cell-type specific patterns of gene expression are necessary to achieve selective cardiovascular developmental programs, we still do not know the molecular machineries that localize these determinants in the heart. With clear implications for the epigenetic control of gene expression signatures, the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) Project Consortium determined that about 90% of the human genome is transcribed while only 1-2% of transcripts encode proteins. Emerging evidence suggests that non-coding RNA (ncRNA) serves as a signal for decoding chromatin modifications and provides a potential molecular basis for cell type-specific and promoter-specific patterns of gene expression. The discovery of the histone methyltransferase enzyme EZH2 in the regulation of gene expression patterns implicated in cardiac hypertrophy suggests a novel role for chromatin-associated ncRNAs and is the focus of this article.
doi:10.4161/epi.26405
PMCID: PMC3928172  PMID: 24247090
cardiac hypertrophy; gene regulation; long non-coding RNA; chromatin; histone modifications
2.  microRNA-199a-3p, DNMT3A, and aberrant DNA methylation in testicular cancer 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):119-128.
It was previously demonstrated that miR-199a was downregulated in testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT), probably due to hypermethylation of its promoter. Further study found that re-expression of miR-199a in testicular cancer cells (NT2) led to suppression of cell growth, cancer migration, invasion and metastasis. More detailed analyses showed that these properties of miR-199a could be assigned to miR-199a-5p, one of its two derivatives. The biological role of the other derivative, miR-199a-3p in TGCT, remains largely uncharacterized. In this report, we identified DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A), the de novo methyltransferase, as a direct target of miR-199a-3p using a 3′-UTR reporter assay. Transient expression of miR-199a-3p in NT2 cells led to decrease, while knocking down of miR-199a-3p in a normal human testicular cell line (HT) led to elevation, of DNMT3A2 (DNMT3A gene isoform 2) mRNA and protein levels. In clinical samples, DNMT3A2 was significantly overexpressed in malignant testicular tumor, and the expression of DNMT3A2 was inversely correlated with the expression of miR-199a-3p. However, DNMT3A did not affect miR-199a expression in NT2 cells. Further characterization of miR-199a-3p revealed that it negatively regulated DNA methylation, partly through targeting DNMT3A. Overexpression of miR-199a-3p restored the expression of APC and MGMT tumor-suppressor genes in NT2 cells by affecting DNA methylation of their promoter regions. Our studies demonstrated the deregulation of miR-199a-3p expression in TGCT may provide novel mechanistic insights into TGCT carcinogenesis and suggested a potentially therapeutic use of synthetic miR-199a-3p oligonucleotides as effective hypomethylating compounds in the treatment of TGCT.
doi:10.4161/epi.25799
PMCID: PMC3928174  PMID: 23959088
miR-199a-3p; DNMT3A; DNA methylation; testicular cancer
3.  Epigenetic regulation of miR-21 in colorectal cancer 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):129-141.
Previous studies have uncovered several transcription factors that determine biological alterations in tumor cells to execute the invasion-metastasis cascade, including the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We sought to investigate the role of miR-21 in colorectal cancer regulation. For this purpose, miR-21 expression was quantified in a panel of colorectal cancer cell lines and clinical specimens. High expression was found in cell lines with EMT properties and in the vast majority of human tumor specimens. We demonstrate in a cell-specific manner the occupancy of MIR-21 gene promoter by AP-1 and ETS1 transcription factors and, for the first time, the pattern of histone posttranslational modifications necessary for miR-21 overexpression. We also show that Integrin-β4 (ITGβ4), exclusively expressed in polarized epithelial cells, is a novel miR-21 target gene and plays a role in the regulation of EMT, since it is remarkably de-repressed after transient miR-21 silencing and downregulated after miR-21 overexpression. miR-21-dependent change of ITGβ4 expression significantly affects cell migration properties of colon cancer cells. Finally, in a subgroup of tumor specimens, ROC curve analysis performed on quantitative PCR data sets for miR-21, ITGβ4, and PDCD4 shows that the combination of high miR-21 with low ITGβ4 and PDCD4 expression is able to predict presence of metastasis. In conclusion, miR-21 is a key player in oncogenic EMT, its overexpression is controlled by the cooperation of genetic and epigenetic alterations, and its levels, along with ITGβ4 and PDCD4 expression, could be exploited as a prognostic tool for CRC metastasis.
doi:10.4161/epi.26842
PMCID: PMC3928175  PMID: 24149370
ITGβ4; RAS; epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT); histone modifications; metastasis markers; miR-21
4.  Perspectives on the mechanism of transcriptional regulation by long non-coding RNAs 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):13-20.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are increasingly being recognized as epigenetic regulators of gene transcription. The diversity and complexity of lncRNA genes means that they exert their regulatory effects by a variety of mechanisms. Although there is still much to be learned about the mechanism of lncRNA function, general principles are starting to emerge. In particular, the application of high throughput (deep) sequencing methodologies has greatly advanced our understanding of lncRNA gene function. lncRNAs function as adaptors that link specific chromatin loci with chromatin-remodeling complexes and transcription factors. lncRNAs can act in cis or trans to guide epigenetic-modifier complexes to distinct genomic sites, or act as scaffolds which recruit multiple proteins simultaneously, thereby coordinating their activities. In this review we discuss the genomic organization of lncRNAs, the importance of RNA secondary structure to lncRNA functionality, the multitude of ways in which they interact with the genome, and what evolutionary conservation tells us about their function.
doi:10.4161/epi.26700
PMCID: PMC3928176  PMID: 24149621
RNA; RNA scaffolds; RNA structure; RNAi; TGA; TGS; chromatin; epigenetics; lncRNA; ncRNA
5.  miR-34a expression, epigenetic regulation, and function in human placental diseases 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):142-151.
Preeclampsia (PE) is the major pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorder responsible for maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality that can be associated with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). PE and IUGR are thought to be due to a placental defect, occurring early during pregnancy. Several placental microRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to be deregulated in the context of placental diseases and could thus play a role in the pathophysiology of PE. Here, we show that pri-miR-34a is overexpressed in preeclamptic placentas and that its placental expression is much higher during the first trimester of pregnancy than at term, suggesting a possible developmental role. We explored pri-miR-34a regulation and showed that P53, a known activator of miR-34a, is reduced in all pathological placentas and that hypoxia can induce pri-miR-34a expression in JEG-3 cells. We also studied the methylation status of the miR-34a promoter and revealed hypomethylation in all preeclamptic placentas (associated or not with IUGR), whereas hypoxia induced a hypermethylation in JEG-3 cells at 72 h. Despite the overexpression of pri-miR-34a in preeclampsia, there was a striking decrease of the mature miR-34a in this condition, suggesting preeclampsia-driven alteration of pri-miR-34a maturation. SERPINA3, a protease inhibitor involved in placental diseases, is elevated in IUGR and PE. We show here that miR-34a overexpression in JEG-3 downregulates SERPINA3. The low level of mature miR-34a could thus be an important mechanism contributing to SERPINA3 upregulation in placental diseases. Overall, our results support a role for miR-34a in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia, through deregulation of the pri-miRNA expression and its altered maturation.
doi:10.4161/epi.26196
PMCID: PMC3928177  PMID: 24081307
preeclampsia; mir34a; SERPINA3; intra-uterine growth restriction; placenta
6.  Prenatal stress changes the glycoprotein GPM6A gene expression and induces epigenetic changes in rat offspring brain 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):152-160.
Prenatal stress (PS) exerts strong impact on fetal brain development and on adult offspring brain functions. Previous work demonstrated that chronic stress alters the mRNA expression of GPM6A, a neuronal glycoprotein involved in filopodium extension. In this work, we analyzed the effect of PS on gpm6a expression and the epigenetic mechanisms involved. Pregnant Wistar rats received restraint stress during the last week of gestation. Male offspring were sacrificed on postnatal days 28 and 60. Hippocampus and prefrontal cortex samples were analyzed for gene expression (qPCR for mRNAs and microRNAs), methylation status (bisulfite conversion) and protein levels. Hippocampal neurons in culture were used to analyze microRNA overexpression effects. Prenatal stress induced changes in gpm6a levels in both tissues and at both ages analyzed, indicating a persistent effect. Two CpG islands in the gpm6a gene were identified. Variations in the methylation pattern at three specific CpGs were found in hippocampus, but not in PFC samples from PS offspring. microRNAs predicted to target gpm6a were identified in silico. qPCR measurements showed that PS modified the expression of several microRNAs in both tissues, being microRNA-133b the most significantly altered. Further studies overexpressing this microRNA in neuronal cultures showed a reduction in gmp6a mRNA and protein level. Moreover filopodium density was also reduced, suggesting that GPM6A function was affected. Gestational stress affected gpm6a gene expression in offspring likely through changes in methylation status and in posttranscriptional regulation by microRNAs. Thus, our findings propose gpm6a as a novel target for epigenetic regulation during prenatal stress.
doi:10.4161/epi.25925
PMCID: PMC3928178  PMID: 23959066
hippocampus; prefrontal cortex; DNA methylation pattern; CpG island; microRNA; target site blocker
7.  A long non-coding RNA promotes full activation of adult gene expression in the chicken α-globin domain 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):173-181.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were recently shown to regulate chromatin remodelling activities. Their function in regulating gene expression switching during specific developmental stages is poorly understood. Here we describe a nuclear, non-coding transcript responsive for the stage-specific activation of the chicken adult αD globin gene. This non-coding transcript, named α-globin transcript long non-coding RNA (lncRNA-αGT) is transcriptionally upregulated in late stages of chicken development, when active chromatin marks the adult αD gene promoter. Accordingly, the lncRNA-αGT promoter drives erythroid-specific transcription. Furthermore, loss of function experiments showed that lncRNA-αGT is required for full activation of the αD adult gene and maintenance of transcriptionally active chromatin. These findings uncovered lncRNA-αGT as an important part of the switching from embryonic to adult α-globin gene expression, and suggest a function of lncRNA-αGT in contributing to the maintenance of adult α-globin gene expression by promoting an active chromatin structure.
doi:10.4161/epi.27030
PMCID: PMC3928180  PMID: 24196393
long non-coding RNA; chromatin; globin genes; erythroid differentiation; development
8.  Long non-coding RNAs and chromatin modifiers 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):21-26.
The emergence of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) has shaken up our conception of gene expression regulation, as lncRNAs take prominent positions as components of cellular networks. Several cellular processes involve lncRNAs, and a significant number of them have been shown to function in cooperation with chromatin modifying enzymes to promote epigenetic activation or silencing of gene expression. Different model mechanisms have been proposed to explain how lncRNAs achieve regulation of gene expression by interacting with the epigenetic machinery. Here we describe these models in light of the current knowledge of lncRNAs, such as Xist and HOTAIR, and discuss recent literature on the role of the three-dimensional structure of the genome in the mechanism of action of lncRNAs and chromatin modifiers.
doi:10.4161/epi.27472
PMCID: PMC3928181  PMID: 24335342
chromatin; epigenetics; gene expression; histone modification; long noncoding RNA
9.  RNA-mediated gene activation 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):27-36.
The regulation of gene expression by non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) has become a new paradigm in biology. RNA-mediated gene silencing pathways have been studied extensively, revealing diverse epigenetic and posttranscriptional mechanisms. In contrast, the roles of ncRNAs in activating gene expression remains poorly understood. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of gene activation by small RNAs, long non-coding RNAs, and enhancer-derived RNAs, with an emphasis on epigenetic mechanisms.
doi:10.4161/epi.26942
PMCID: PMC3928182  PMID: 24185374
transcriptional activation; saRNA; RNAa; non-coding RNA; eRNA; lincRNA; epigenetic; enhancer
10.  Transgenerational functions of small RNA pathways in controlling gene expression in C. elegans 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):37-44.
RNA silencing processes use exogenous or endogenous RNA molecules to specifically and robustly regulate gene expression. In C. elegans, initial mechanistic descriptions of the different silencing processes focused on posttranscriptional regulation. In this review, we discuss recent work showing that, in this model organism, RNA silencing also controls the transcription of target genes by inducing heterochromatin formation. Specifically, it has been shown that ribonucleoprotein complexes containing small RNAs, either processed from exogenous dsRNA or synthesized from the genome itself, and proteins of the Argonaute family, mediate the deposition of repressive histone marks at the targeted loci. Interestingly, the accumulation of repressive marks is required for the inheritance of the silencing effect and the establishment of an epigenetic memory that discriminates self- from non-self-RNAs.
doi:10.4161/epi.26795
PMCID: PMC3928184  PMID: 24162759
C. elegans; RNA interference; RNA-induced epigenetic silencing; histone modifications; small RNAs; transgenerational gene silencing
11.  Noisy silence 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):53-61.
A significant fraction of eukaryotic genomes comprises repetitive sequences, including rRNA genes, centromeres, telomeres, and retrotransposons. Repetitive elements are hotspots for recombination and represent a serious challenge for genome integrity. Maintaining these repeated elements in a compact heterochromatic structure suppresses recombination and unwanted mutagenic transposition, and is therefore indispensable for genomic stability. Paradoxically, repetitive elements are not transcriptionally inert, but produce RNA that has important functions in regulating and reinforcing the heterochromatic state. Here, we review the role of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) in recruiting chromatin-modifying enzymes to repetitive genomic loci to establish a repressive chromatin structure that safeguards chromosome integrity and genome stability.
doi:10.4161/epi.26485
PMCID: PMC3928186  PMID: 24121539
non-coding RNA; heterochromatin; repetitive elements; rDNA; centromeres; telomeres; retrotransposons
12.  Homeland security in the C. elegans germ line 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):62-74.
While most eukaryotic genomes contain transposable elements that can provide select evolutionary advantages to a given organism, failure to tightly control the mobility of such transposable elements can result in compromised genomic integrity of both parental and subsequent generations. Together with the Piwi subfamily of Argonaute proteins, small, non-coding Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) primarily function in the germ line to defend the genome against the potentially deleterious effects that can be caused by transposition. Here, we describe recent discoveries concerning the biogenesis and function of piRNAs in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, illuminating how the faithful production of these mature species can impart a robust defense mechanism for the germ line to counteract problems caused by foreign genetic elements across successive generations by contributing to the epigenetic memory of non-self vs. self.
doi:10.4161/epi.26647
PMCID: PMC3928187  PMID: 24149573
piRNA/21U-RNA; Piwi/PRG-1; 22G-RNA; Argonaute proteins; biogenesis; transgenerational silencing; epigenetics; C. elegans; germ line
13.  Clinical significance of the interaction between non-coding RNAs and the epigenetics machinery 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):75-80.
Non-coding RNAs and epigenetics are remarkable mechanisms of cellular control. In this review we underline the processes by which non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), shown to be involved in various diseases, are capable of modifying and being modified by the epigenetic machinery, emphasizing the clinical importance of this network in cancer. Many ncRNAs have been described that play important roles in the establishment and maintenance of the epigenome. However, only a few studies deeply take into account the role of ncRNAs from a clinicopathological standpoint. The wide range of interactions between the non-coding RNome and the epigenome, and the roles of these networks in the pathogenesis, prognosis and early diagnosis of many diseases, present new challenges and opportunities for future studies regarding therapeutic strategies in oncology.
doi:10.4161/epi.26488
PMCID: PMC3928188  PMID: 24121593
epigenetics; ncRNAs; microRNAs (miRNAs); epi-miRs; lncRNAs; piRNAs; cancer; prognostic; survival
14.  Role of miRNAs and epigenetics in neural stem cell fate determination 
Epigenetics  2013;9(1):90-100.
The regulation of gene expression that determines stem cell fate determination is tightly controlled by both epigenetic and posttranscriptional mechanisms. Indeed, small non-coding RNAs such as microRNAs (miRNAs) are able to regulate neural stem cell fate by targeting chromatin-remodeling pathways. Here, we aim to summarize the latest findings regarding the feedback network of epigenetics and miRNAs during embryonic and adult neurogenesis.
doi:10.4161/epi.27536
PMCID: PMC3928190  PMID: 24342893
microRNAs; epigenetics machinery; neural stem cells; neurogenesis; cell fate determination
15.  DNA methylation pattern of CALCA in preterm neonates with bacterial sepsis as a putative epigenetic biomarker 
Epigenetics  2013;8(12):1261-1267.
Diagnosis of bacterial sepsis in preterm neonates can be difficult when using serum markers that rely on physiological changes because these changes may not necessarily be the result of bacterial infections alone. This retrospective investigation explores the potential use of the DNA methylation pattern of CpG sites in the promoter region of the calcitonin-related polypeptide α (CALCA) gene as an epigenetic biomarker for bacterial sepsis in preterm newborns. Four novel changes in the DNA methylation of eight CpG sites were detected in this gene and are present only in neonates with bacterial sepsis: (1) partial methylation at -769 CpG in gram-negative or gram-positive early onset sepsis (EOS) and late onset sepsis (LOS) episodes; (2) demethylation of 8 CpGs in gram-negative EOS followed by LOS (ELS) and in gram-negative EOS; (3) demethylation of 7 CpGs in gram-positive ELS and gram-positive EOS; (4) -771 C:G > T:A; 5′ de novo -778 CpG mutation on both alleles in EOS. These changes were not detected in birth weight and gestational age matched controls or in newborns with isolated infections. Our results indicate that the DNA methylation pattern of the promoter region of the CALCA gene varies in different types of bacterial preterm sepsis, thus suggesting a potential use as an epigenetic biomarker. A prospective confirmation of these results is essential.
doi:10.4161/epi.26645
PMCID: PMC3933487  PMID: 24135723
CALCA; neonates; sepsis; DNA-methylation; epigenetics
16.  A key role for EZH2 in epigenetic silencing of HOX genes in mantle cell lymphoma 
Epigenetics  2013;8(12):1280-1288.
The chromatin modifier EZH2 is overexpressed and associated with inferior outcome in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Recently, we demonstrated preferential DNA methylation of HOX genes in MCL compared with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), despite these genes not being expressed in either entity. Since EZH2 has been shown to regulate HOX gene expression, to gain further insight into its possible role in differential silencing of HOX genes in MCL vs. CLL, we performed detailed epigenetic characterization using representative cell lines and primary samples. We observed significant overexpression of EZH2 in MCL vs. CLL. Chromatin immune precipitation (ChIP) assays revealed that EZH2 catalyzed repressive H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3), which was sufficient to silence HOX genes in CLL, whereas in MCL H3K27me3 is accompanied by DNA methylation for a more stable repression. More importantly, hypermethylation of the HOX genes in MCL resulted from EZH2 overexpression and subsequent recruitment of the DNA methylation machinery onto HOX gene promoters. The importance of EZH2 upregulation in this process was further underscored by siRNA transfection and EZH2 inhibitor experiments. Altogether, these observations implicate EZH2 in the long-term silencing of HOX genes in MCL, and allude to its potential as a therapeutic target with clinical impact.
doi:10.4161/epi.26546
PMCID: PMC3933489  PMID: 24107828
mantle cell lymphoma; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; DNA methylation; EZH2; HOX genes; histone methylation
17.  Adaptations of placental and cord blood ABCA1 DNA methylation profile to maternal metabolic status 
Epigenetics  2013;8(12):1289-1302.
In utero environmental perturbations have been associated with epigenetic changes in the offspring and a lifelong susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases (CVD). DNA methylation at the ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) gene was previously associated with CVD, but whether these epigenetic marks respond to changes in the maternal environment is unknown. This study was undertaken to assess the associations between the maternal metabolic profile and ABCA1 DNA methylation levels in placenta and cord blood. Placenta and cord blood samples were obtained at delivery from 100 women including 26 with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) diagnosed following a 75 g-oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) between week 24 and 28 of gestation. ABCA1 DNA methylation and mRNA levels were measured using bisulfite pyrosequencing and quantitative real-time PCR, respectively. We report that ABCA1 DNA methylation levels on the maternal side of the placenta are correlated with maternal high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels (r < –0.21; P < 0.04) and glucose levels 2 h post-OGTT (r = 0.25; P = 0.02). On the fetal side of the placenta, ABCA1 DNA methylation levels are associated with cord blood triglyceride levels (r = –0.28; P = 0.01). ABCA1 DNA methylation variability on both sides of the placenta are also associated with ABCA1 mRNA levels (r < –0.35; P = 0.05). As opposed to placenta, cord blood DNA methylation levels are negatively correlated with maternal glucose 2 h post-OGTT (r = –0.26; P = 0.02). In conclusion, the epivariations observed in placenta and cord blood likely contribute to an optimal materno–fetal cholesterol transfer. These in utero epigenetics adaptations may also potentially trigger the long-term susceptibility of the newborn to dyslipidemia and CVD.
doi:10.4161/epi.26554
PMCID: PMC3933490  PMID: 24113149
Gestational diabetes; high-density lipoprotein cholesterol; fetal programming; lipid metabolism; epigenetics
18.  The roles of DNA methylation of NR3C1 and 11β-HSD2 and exposure to maternal mood disorder in utero on newborn neurobehavior 
Epigenetics  2013;8(12):1321-1329.
Exposure to maternal mood disorder in utero may program infant neurobehavior via DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1) and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11β-HSD-2), two placental genes that have been implicated in perturbations of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical (HPA) axis. We tested the relations among prenatal exposure to maternal depression or anxiety, methylation of exon 1F of NR3C1 and 11β-HSD-2, and newborn neurobehavior. Controlling for relevant covariates, infants whose mothers reported depression during pregnancy and showed greater methylation of placental NR3C1 CpG2 had poorer self-regulation, more hypotonia, and more lethargy than infants whose mothers did not report depression. On the other hand, infants whose mothers reported anxiety during pregnancy and showed greater methylation of placental 11β-HSD-2 CpG4 were more hypotonic compared with infants of mothers who did not report anxiety during pregnancy. Our results support the fetal programming hypothesis and suggest that fetal adjustments to cues from the intrauterine environment, in this case an environment that could be characterized by increased exposure to maternal cortisol, may lead to poor neurodevelopmental outcomes.
doi:10.4161/epi.26634
PMCID: PMC3933492  PMID: 24135662
DNA methylation; maternal depression; maternal anxiety; newborn neurobehavior
19.  Epigenetic regulation of DACH1, a novel Wnt signaling component in colorectal cancer 
Epigenetics  2013;8(12):1373-1383.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the common malignant tumors worldwide. Both genetic and epigenetic changes are regarded as important factors of colorectal carcinogenesis. Loss of DACH1 expression was found in breast, prostate, and endometrial cancer. To analyze the regulation and function of DACH1 in CRC, 5 colorectal cancer cell lines, 8 cases of normal mucosa, 15 cases of polyps and 100 cases of primary CRC were employed in this study. In CRC cell lines, loss of DACH1 expression was correlated with promoter region hypermethylation, and re-expression of DACH1 was induced by 5-Aza-2'-deoxyazacytidine treatment. We found that DACH1 was frequently methylated in primary CRC and this methylation was associated with reduction in DACH1 expression. These results suggest that DACH1 expression is regulated by promoter region hypermethylation in CRC. DACH1 methylation was associated with late tumor stage, poor differentiation, and lymph node metastasis. Re-expression of DACH1 reduced TCF/LEF luciferase reporter activity and inhibited the expression of Wnt signaling downstream targets (c-Myc and cyclinD1). In xenografts of HCT116 cells in which DACH1 was re-expressed, tumor size was smaller than in controls. In addition, restoration of DACH1 expression induced G2/M phase arrest and sensitized HCT116 cells to docetaxel. DACH1 suppresses CRC growth by inhibiting Wnt signaling both in vitro and in vivo. Silencing of DACH1 expression caused resistance of CRC cells to docetaxel. In conclusion, DACH1 is frequently methylated in human CRC and methylation of DACH1 may serve as detective and prognostic marker in CRC.
doi:10.4161/epi.26781
PMCID: PMC3933496  PMID: 24149323
DACH1; DNA methylation; Wnt signaling; colorectal cancer; chemosensitivity
20.  Virulence of infecting Helicobacter pyloristrains and intensity of mononuclear cell infiltration are associated with levels of DNA hypermethylation in gastric mucosae 
Epigenetics  2013;8(11):1153-1161.
DNA methylation changes are known to occur in gastric cancers and in premalignant lesions of the gastric mucosae. In order to examine variables associated with methylation levels, we quantitatively evaluated DNA methylation in tumors, non-tumor gastric mucosae, and in gastric biopsies at promoters of 5 genes with methylation alterations that discriminate gastric cancers from non-tumor epithelia (EN1, PCDH10, RSPO2, ZIC1, and ZNF610). Among Colombian subjects at high and low risk for gastric cancer, biopsies from subjects from the high-risk region had significantly higher levels of methylation at these 5 genes than samples from subjects in the low risk region (p ≤ 0.003). When results were stratified by Helicobacter pylori infection status, infection with a cagA positive, vacA s1m1 strain was significantly associated with highest methylation levels, compared with other strains (p = 0.024 to 0.001). More severe gastric inflammation and more advanced precancerous lesions were also associated with higher levels of DNA methylation (p ≤ 0.001). In a multivariate model, location of residence of the subject and the presence of cagA and vacA s1m1 in the H. pylori strain were independent variables associated with higher methylation in all 5 genes. High levels of mononuclear cell infiltration were significantly related to methylation in PCDH10, RSPO2, and ZIC1 genes. These results indicate that for these genes, levels of methylation in precancerous lesions are related to H. pylori virulence, geographic region and measures of chronic inflammation. These genes seem predisposed to sustain significant quantitative changes in DNA methylation at early stages of the gastric precancerous process.
doi:10.4161/epi.26072
PMCID: PMC3927747  PMID: 24128875
methylation; chronic inflammation; gastric cancer; Pyrosequencing; Helicobacter; biopsy
21.  Kinases and chromatin structure 
Epigenetics  2013;8(10):1008-1012.
Chromatin structure is regulated by families of proteins that are able to covalently modify the histones and the DNA, as well as to regulate the spacing of nucleosomes along the DNA. Over the years, these chromatin remodeling factors have been proven to be essential to a variety of processes, including gene expression, DNA replication, and chromosome cohesion. The function of these remodeling factors is regulated by a number of chemical and developmental signals and, in turn, changes in the chromatin structure eventually contribute to the response to changes in the cellular environment. Exciting new research findings by the laboratories of Sharon Dent and Steve Jackson indicate, in two different contexts, that changes in the chromatin structure may, in reverse, signal to intracellular signaling pathways to regulate cell fate. The discoveries clearly challenge our traditional view of ‘epigenetics’, and may have important implications in human health.
doi:10.4161/epi.25909
PMCID: PMC3891680  PMID: 23917692
chromatin; signaling pathways; histone tails; DNA damage; Jun N-terminal kinase
22.  Alterations of DNA methylome in human bladder cancer 
Epigenetics  2013;8(10):1013-1022.
Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men in the United States, and its recurrence rate is highest among all malignancies. The unmet need for improved strategies for early detection, treatment, and monitoring of the progression of this disease continues to translate into high mortality and morbidity. The quest for advanced diagnostic, therapeutic, and prognostic approaches for bladder cancer is a high priority, which can be achieved by understanding the molecular mechanisms of the initiation and progression of this malignancy. Aberrant DNA methylation in single or multiple cancer-related genes/loci has been found in human bladder tumors and cancer cell lines, and urine sediments, and correlated with many clinicopathological features of this disease, including tumor relapse, muscle-invasiveness, and survival. The present review summarizes the published research on aberrant DNA methylation in connection with human bladder cancer. Representative studies are highlighted to set forth the current state of knowledge, gaps in the knowledgebase, and future directions in this prime epigenetic field of research. Identifying the potentially reversible and ‘drugable’ aberrant DNA methylation events that initiate and promote bladder cancer development can highlight biological markers for early diagnosis, effective therapy and accurate prognosis of this malignancy.
doi:10.4161/epi.25927
PMCID: PMC3891681  PMID: 23975266
aberrant DNA methylation; animal models; epigenetics; transitional cell carcinoma; tumorigenesis
23.  Putative miRNAs for the diagnosis of dyslexia, dyspraxia, and specific language impairment 
Epigenetics  2013;8(10):1023-1029.
Disorders of human communication abilities can be classified into speech and language disorders. Speech disorders (e.g., dyspraxia) affect the sound generation and sequencing, while language disorders (e.g., dyslexia and specific language impairment, or SLI) are deficits in the encoding and decoding of language according to its rules (reading, spelling, grammar). The diagnosis of such disorders is often complicated, especially when a patient presents more than one disorder at the same time. The present review focuses on these challenges. We have combined data available from the literature with an in silico approach in an attempt to identify putative miRNAs that may have a key role in dyspraxia, dyslexia and SLI. We suggest the use of new miRNAs, which could have an important impact on the three diseases. Further, we relate those miRNAs to the axon guidance pathway and discuss possible interactions and the role of likely deregulated proteins. In addition, we describe potential differences in expressional deregulation and its role in the improvement of diagnosis. We encourage experimental investigations to test the data obtained in silico.
doi:10.4161/epi.26026
PMCID: PMC3891682  PMID: 23949389
in silico analysis; miRNA; dyslexia; dyspraxia; SLI
24.  Pyrosequencing for the rapid and efficient quantification of allele-specific expression 
Epigenetics  2013;8(10):1039-1042.
We have developed a rapid and sensitive quantitative assay for the measurement of individual allelic ratios. This assay minimizes time and labor, the need for special restriction endonuclease enzymes for polymorphic sites, and avoids heteroduplex formation seen with traditional quantitative PCR-based methods. It has improved sensitivity compared to other methods and is capable of distinguishing 1% differences in allelic expression. This assay, termed Pyrosequencing for Imprinted Expression (PIE), involves the use of an intron-crossing PCR primer to generate the first PCR product. We applied the assay to analyze Insulin-like Growth Factor-2 (IGF2) imprinting in both human and mouse prostate tissues.
doi:10.4161/epi.25892
PMCID: PMC3891684  PMID: 23973940
imprinting; pyrosequencing; intron-crossing primer; IGF2; epigenetic
25.  Epigenetic regulation of REG1A and chemosensitivity of cutaneous melanoma 
Epigenetics  2013;8(10):1043-1052.
Regenerating gene 1A (REG1A) plays an important role in tissue regeneration and in cell proliferation in epithelium origin tumors; however, its role in melanoma has not been explored in details. The objective of this study was to identify whether REG1A is expressed in cutaneous melanoma and if REG1A expression status can predict prognosis in cutaneous melanoma patients with metastasis. We also determined whether epigenetic regulation of the promoter region regulates REG1A expression. AJCC stage III cutaneous melanoma specimens with clinically well annotated stage III lymph node melanoma metastasis tissue microarray were assessed by IHC. MALDI-TOF-mass spectrometry and HM450K array were used to identify REG1A promoter region CpG site methylation. Chemotherapeutic agent response by melanoma cells as related to REG1A protein expression was assessed. Post-surgery melanoma patients followed by adjuvant chemotherapy with high REG1A expression had a significantly better prognosis (disease-specific survival) compared with patients with low REG1A expression (log rank test; p = 0.0013). The demethylating reagent 5-Aza-2′-deoxycytidine activated REG1A promoter region resulting in enhanced REG1A mRNA and protein expression in melanoma cell lines. Promoter region CpG methylation was shown to regulate REG1A expression in melanoma cells. Moreover, melanoma lines with high REG1A mRNA expression were more susceptible to Dacarbazine and Cisplatin, as compared with those with low REG1A mRNA expression. In conclusion, REG1A expression status may be useful as a biomarker in melanoma patients for sensitivity to these chemotherapeutic agents. The epigenetic regulation of the REG1A promoter region may offer a potential therapeutic approach to improve chemotherapy for metastatic melanoma patients.
doi:10.4161/epi.25810
PMCID: PMC3891685  PMID: 23903855
REG1A; melanoma; methylation; metastasis; chemosensitivity

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