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1.  Genetic-epigenetic interaction in lupus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(Suppl 3):A9.
PMCID: PMC3467486
2.  DNA methylome in human CD4+ T cells identifies transcriptionally repressive and non-repressive methylation peaks 
Genes and immunity  2010;11(7):554-560.
DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark that is critical in determining chromatin accessibility and regulating gene expression. This epigenetic mechanism has an important role in T-cell function. We used genome-wide methylation profiling to characterize the DNA methylome in primary human CD4+ T cells. We found that only 5% of CpG islands are methylated in CD4+ T cells, and that DNA methylation peak density is increased in subtelomeric chromosomal regions. We also found an inverse relationship between methylation peak density and chromosomal length. Our data indicate that DNA methylation in gene promoter regions is not always a repressive epigenetic mark. Indeed, about 27% of methylated genes are actively expressed in CD4+ T cells. We demonstrate that repressive methylation peaks are located closer to the transcription start site (TSS) compared with functionally non-repressive peaks (−893±110 bp versus −1342±218 bp (mean±s.e.m.), P-value <0.05). We also show that both a larger number and an increased CpG island density in promoter sequences predict transcriptional permissiveness of DNA methylation. TSS in the majority of genes with permissive DNA methylation peaks is in DNase I hypersensitive sites, indicating a failure of DNA methylation to induce chromatin inaccessibility in these loci.
PMCID: PMC2948060  PMID: 20463746
CD4+ T cell; DNA methylation; CpG islands; promoter methylation; methylome
3.  Defective T-cell ERK signaling induces interferon-regulated gene expression and overexpression of methylation-sensitive genes similar to lupus patients 
Genes and immunity  2008;9(4):368-378.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the production of autoantibodies against a host of nuclear antigens. The pathogenesis of lupus is incompletely understood. Environmental factors may play a role via altering DNA methylation, a mechanism regulating gene expression. In lupus, genes including CD11a and CD70 are overexpressed in T cells as a result of promoter hypomethylation. T-cell DNA methyltransferase expression is regulated in part by the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway. In this study, we investigate the effects of decreased ERK pathway signaling in T cells using transgenic animals. We generated a transgenic mouse that inducibly expresses a dominant-negative MEK in T cells in the presence of doxycycline. We show that decreased ERK pathway signaling in T cells results in decreased expression of DNA methyltransferase 1 and overexpression of the methylation-sensitive genes CD11a and CD70, similar to T cells in human lupus. Our transgenic animal model also develops anti-dsDNA antibodies. Interestingly, microarray expression assays revealed overexpression of several interferon-regulated genes in the spleen similar to peripheral blood cells of lupus patients. This model supports the contention that ERK pathway signaling defects in T cells contribute to the development of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC2825163  PMID: 18523434
epigenetics; T cell; autoimmunity; interferon; methylation; lupus

Results 1-3 (3)