In differentiated cells, aging is associated with hypermethylation of DNA regions enriched in repressive histone posttranslational modifications. However, the chromatin marks associated with changes in DNA methylation in adult stem cells during lifetime are still largely unknown. Here, DNA methylation profiling of mesenchymal stem cells obtained from individuals aged 2 to 92 identified 18735 hypermethylated and 45407 hypomethylated CpG sites associated with aging. As in differentiated cells, hypermethylated sequences were enriched in chromatin repressive marks. Most importantly, hypomethylated CpG sites were strongly enriched in the active chromatin mark H3K4me1 in stem and differentiated cells, suggesting this is a cell type-independent chromatin signature of DNA hypomethylation during aging. Analysis of scedasticity showed that interindividual variability of DNA methylation increased during aging in MSCs and differentiated cells, providing a new avenue for the identification of DNA methylation changes over time. DNA methylation profiling of genetically identical individuals showed that both the tendency of DNA methylation changes and scedasticity depended on non-genetic as well as genetic factors. Our results indicate that the dynamics of DNA methylation during aging depend on a complex mixture of factors that include the DNA sequence, cell type and chromatin context involved, and that, depending on the locus, the changes can be modulated by genetic and/or external factors.
Not only genetic but also epigenetic mechanisms regulate gene expression, cellular differentiation and development processes. Additionally, "environmental epigenetics" studies the interaction between the environment and the epigenome, and its potential role in the regulation of gene activity. Several studies have shown that the impact of environmental exposures on the epigenome takes on more importance during early fertilization and embryonic development, given that during these periods epigenetic reprogramming occurs and the new epigenetic profile of the offspring is established. Epigenetic alterations in the germline are especially relevant since they can be transmitted trans-generationally and could be associated with a wide range of diseases including several reproductive disorders. In this chapter we review some epigenetic mechanisms, focusing mainly on DNA methylation and histone modifications, which are related to reproductive aspects, and we discuss the controversies in the literature surrounding how environmental conditions, such as exposure to toxic substances or treatment with assisted reproductive techniques (ART), may be involved in epigenetic alterations that affect reproductive success.
Adipose mesenchymal stem cells are a heterogeneous population. Therefore, the question posed in this study is whether the heterogenic differentiation potential exhibited by the different clones toward mesodermic lineages can be extended to nonmesodermic lineages, such as the neuroectoderm.
Aberrant epigenetics is a hallmark of cancer, and endocrine-related tumors are no exception. Recent research has been identifying an ever-growing number of epigenetic alterations in both genomic DNA methylation and histone post-translational modification in tumors of the endocrine system. Novel microarray and ultra-deep sequencing technologies have allowed the identification of genome-wide epigenetic patterns in some tumor types such as adrenocortical, parathyroid, and breast carcinomas. However, in other cancer types, such as the multiple endocrine neoplasia syndromes and thyroid cancer, tumor information is limited to candidate genes alone. Future research should fill this gap and deepen our understanding of the functional role of these alterations in cancer, as well as defining their possible clinical uses.
NANOG is a pluripotency transcription factor in embryonic stem cells; however, its role in adult tissues remains largely unexplored. Here we show that mouse NANOG is selectively expressed in stratified epithelia, most notably in the oesophagus where the Nanog promoter is hypomethylated. Interestingly, inducible ubiquitous overexpression of NANOG in mice causes hyperplasia selectively in the oesophagus, in association with increased cell proliferation. NANOG transcriptionally activates the mitotic programme, including Aurora A kinase (Aurka), in stratified epithelia, and endogenous NANOG directly binds to the Aurka promoter in primary keratinocytes. Interestingly, overexpression of Nanog or Aurka in mice increased proliferation and aneuploidy in the oesophageal basal epithelium. Finally, inactivation of NANOG in cell lines from oesophageal or head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs or HNSCCs, respectively) results in lower levels of AURKA and decreased proliferation, and NANOG and AURKA expression are positively correlated in HNSCCs. Together, these results indicate that NANOG has a lineage-restricted mitogenic function in stratified epithelia.
DNA methylation is a central epigenetic modification that is established by de novo DNA methyltransferases. The mechanisms underlying the generation of genomic methylation patterns are still poorly understood. Using mass spectrometry and a phosphospecific Dnmt3a antibody, we demonstrate that CK2 phosphorylates endogenous Dnmt3a at two key residues located near its PWWP domain, thereby downregulating the ability of Dnmt3a to methylate DNA. Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis shows that CK2 primarily modulates CpG methylation of several repeats, most notably of Alu SINEs. This modulation can be directly attributed to CK2-mediated phosphorylation of Dnmt3a. We also find that CK2-mediated phosphorylation is required for localization of Dnmt3a to heterochromatin. By revealing phosphorylation as a mode of regulation of de novo DNA methyltransferase function and by uncovering a mechanism for the regulation of methylation at repetitive elements, our results shed light on the origin of DNA methylation patterns.
Ancient DNA sequencing has recently provided high-coverage archaic human genomes. However, the evolution of epigenetic regulation along the human lineage remains largely unexplored. We reconstructed the full DNA methylation maps of the Neandertal and the Denisovan by harnessing the natural degradation processes of methylated and unmethylated cytosines. Comparing these ancient methylation maps to those of present-day humans, we identified ~2000 differentially methylated regions (DMRs). Particularly, we found substantial methylation changes in the HOXD cluster that may explain anatomical differences between archaic and present-day humans. Additionally, we found that DMRs are significantly more likely to be associated with diseases. This study provides insight into the epigenetic landscape of our closest evolutionary relatives and opens a window to explore the epigenomes of extinct species.
The association between low birthweight (LBW) and risk of developing type 2 diabetes may involve epigenetic mechanisms, with skeletal muscle being a prime target tissue. Differential DNA methylation patterns have been observed in single genes in muscle tissue from type 2 diabetic and LBW individuals, and we recently showed multiple DNA methylation changes during short-term high-fat overfeeding in muscle of healthy people. In a randomised crossover study, we analysed genome-wide DNA promoter methylation in skeletal muscle of 17 young LBW men and 23 matched normal birthweight (NBW) men after a control and a 5 day high-fat overfeeding diet.
The bromodomain and extra terminal (BET) protein family member BRD4 is a transcriptional regulator, critical for cell cycle progression and cellular viability. Here, we show that BRD4 plays an important role in embryonic stem cell (ESC) regulation. During differentiation of ESCs, BRD4 expression is upregulated and its gene promoter becomes demethylated. Disruption of BRD4 expression in ESCs did not induce spontaneous differentiation but severely diminished hematoendothelial potential. Although BRD4 regulates c-Myc expression, our data show that the role of BRD4 in hematopoietic commitment is not exclusively mediated by c-Myc. Our results indicate that BRD4 is epigenetically regulated during hematopoietic differentiation ESCs in the context of a still unknown signaling pathway.
Axonal myelination is essential for rapid saltatory impulse conduction in the nervous system, and malformation or destruction of myelin sheaths leads to motor and sensory disabilities. DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic modification during mammalian development, yet its role in myelination remains obscure. Here, using high-resolution methylome maps, we show that DNA methylation could play a key gene regulatory role in peripheral nerve myelination and that S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), the principal methyl donor in cytosine methylation, regulates the methylome dynamics during this process. Our studies also point to a possible role of SAMe in establishing the aberrant DNA methylation patterns in a mouse model of diabetic neuropathy, implicating SAMe in the pathogenesis of this disease. These critical observations establish a link between SAMe and DNA methylation status in a defined biological system, providing a mechanism that could direct methylation changes during cellular differentiation and in diverse pathological situations.
A decline in skeletal muscle mass and function with aging is well recognized, but remains poorly characterized at the molecular level. Here we report for the first time a genome-wide study of DNA methylation dynamics in skeletal muscle of healthy male individuals during normal human aging. We predominantly observed hypermethylation throughout the genome within the aged group as compared to the young subjects. Differentially methylated CpG (dmCpG) nucleotides tend to arise intragenically, and are underrepresented in promoters and are overrepresented in the middle and 3 end of genes. The intragenic methylation changes are over represented in genes that guide the formation of the junction of the motor neuron and myofibers. We report a low level of correlation of gene expression from previous studies of aged muscle with our current analysis of DNA methylation status. For those genes that had both changes in methylation and gene expression with age, we observed a reverse correlation, with the exception of intragenic hypermethylated genes, that were correlated with increased gene expression. We suggest that a minimal number of dmCpG sites or select sites are required to be altered in order to correlate with gene expression changes. Finally, we identified 500 dmCpG sites that perform well in discriminating young from old samples. Our findings highlight epigenetic links between aging post-mitotic skeletal muscle and DNA methylation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The central nervous system has a pattern of gene expression that is closely regulated with respect to functional and anatomical regions. DNA methylation is a major regulator of transcriptional activity, and aberrations in the distribution of this epigenetic mark may be involved in many neurological disorders, such as Alzheimers disease. Herein, we have analysed 12 distinct mouse brain regions according to their CpG 5-end gene methylation patterns and observed their unique epigenetic landscapes. The DNA methylomes obtained from the cerebral cortex were used to identify aberrant DNA methylation changes that occurred in two mouse models of Alzheimers disease. We were able to translate these findings to patients with Alzheimers disease, identifying DNA methylation-associated silencing of three targets genes: thromboxane A2 receptor (TBXA2R), sorbin and SH3 domain containing 3 (SORBS3) and spectrin beta 4 (SPTBN4). These hypermethylation targets indicate that the cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) activation pathway and the axon initial segment could contribute to the disease.
Defining the relationship between ageing and cancer is a crucial but challenging task. Mice deficient in Zmpste24, a metalloproteinase mutated in human progeria and involved in nuclear prelamin A maturation, recapitulate multiple features of ageing. However, their short lifespan and serious cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic alterations restrict the application and interpretation of carcinogenesis protocols. Here we present Zmpste24 mosaic mice that lack these limitations. Zmpste24 mosaic mice develop normally and keep similar proportions of Zmpste24-deficient (prelamin A-accumulating) and Zmpste24-proficient (mature lamin A-containing) cells throughout life, revealing that cell-extrinsic mechanisms are preeminent for progeria development. Moreover, prelamin A accumulation does not impair tumour initiation and growth, but it decreases the incidence of infiltrating oral carcinomas. Accordingly, silencing of ZMPSTE24 reduces human cancer cell invasiveness. Our results support the potential of cell-based and systemic therapies for progeria and highlight ZMPSTE24 as a new anticancer target.
DNA methylation biomarkers for noninvasive diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) and precursor lesions have been extensively studied. Different panels have been reported attempting to improve current protocols in clinical practice, although no definite biomarkers have been established. In the present study, we have examined patient biopsies starting from a comprehensive analysis of DNA methylation differences between paired normal and tumor samples in known cancer-related genes aiming to select the best performing candidates informative for CRC diagnosis in stool samples. Five selected markers were considered for subsequent analyses in independent biologic cohorts and in silico data sets. Among the five selected genes, three of them (AGTR1, WNT2 and SLIT2) were validated in stool DNA of affected patients with a detection sensitivity of 78% [95% confidence interval (CI), 56%-89%]. As a reference, DNA methylation of VIM and SEPT9 was evaluated in a subset of stool samples yielding sensitivities of 55% and 20%, respectively. Moreover, our panel may complement histologic and endoscopic diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-associated neoplasia, as it was also efficient detecting aberrant DNA methylation in non-neoplastic tissue samples from affected patients. This novel panel of specific methylation markers can be useful for early diagnosis of CRC using stool DNA and may help in the follow-up of high-risk patients with IBD.
We reported previously that the expression of Wnt-related genes is lower in osteoporotic hip fractures than in osteoarthritis. We aimed to confirm those results by analyzing ?-catenin levels and explored potential genetic and epigenetic mechanisms involved. ?-Catenin gene expression and nuclear levels were analyzed by real time PCR and confocal immunofluorescence. Increased nuclear ?-catenin was found in osteoblasts isolated from patients with osteoarthritis (99 ± 4 units vs. 76 ± 12, p=0.01, n=10), without differences in gene transcription, which is consistent with a post-translational down-regulation of ?-catenin and decreased Wnt pathway activity. Twenty four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of genes showing differential expression between fractures and osteoarthritis (WNT4, WNT10A, WNT16 and SFRP1) were analyzed in DNA isolated from blood of 853 patients. The genotypic frequencies were similar in both groups of patients, with no significant differences. Methylation of Wnt pathway genes was analyzed in bone tissue samples (15 with fractures and 15 with osteoarthritis) by interrogating a CpG-based methylation array. Six genes showed significant methylation differences between both groups of patients: FZD10, TBL1X, CSNK1E, WNT8A, CSNK1A1L and SFRP4. The DNA demethylating agent 5-deoxycytidine up-regulated 8 genes, including FZD10, in an osteoblast-like cell line, whereas it down-regulated other 16 genes. In conclusion, Wnt activity is reduced in patients with hip fractures, in comparison with those with osteoarthritis. It does not appear to be related to differences in the allele frequencies of the Wnt genes studied. On the other hand, methylation differences between both groups could contribute to explain the differences in Wnt activity.
We show that BRAF(V600E) initiates an alternative pathway to colorectal cancer (CRC), which progresses through a hyperplasia/adenoma/carcinoma sequence. This pathway underlies significant subsets of CRCs with distinctive pathomorphologic/genetic/epidemiologic/clinical characteristics. Genetic and functional analyses in mice revealed a series of stage-specific molecular alterations driving different phases of tumor evolution and uncovered mechanisms underlying this stage specificity. We further demonstrate dose-dependent effects of oncogenic signaling, with physiologic Braf(V600E) expression being sufficient for hyperplasia induction, but later stage intensified Mapk-signaling driving both tumor progression and activation of intrinsic tumor suppression. Such phenomena explain, for example, the inability of p53 to restrain tumor initiation as well as its importance in invasiveness control, and the late stage specificity of its somatic mutation. Finally, systematic drug screening revealed sensitivity of this CRC subtype to targeted therapeutics, including Mek or combinatorial PI3K/Braf inhibition.
The basic mechanisms underlying promoter DNA hypermethylation in cancer are still largely unknown. It has been proposed that the levels of the methyl donor group in DNA methylation reactions, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), might be involved. SAMe levels depend on the glycine-N-methyltransferase (GNMT), a one-carbon group methyltransferase, which catalyzes the conversion of SAMe to S-adenosylhomocysteine in hepatic cells. GNMT has been proposed to display tumor suppressor activity and to be frequently repressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, we show that GNMT shows aberrant DNA hypermethylation in some HCC cell lines and primary tumors (20 %). GNMT hypermethylation could contribute to gene repression and its restoration in cell lines displaying hypermethylation-reduced tumor growth in vitro. In agreement, human primary tumors expressing GNMT were of smaller size than tumors showing GNMT hypermethylation. Genome-wide analyses of gene promoter methylation identified 277 genes whose aberrant methylation in HCC was associated with GNMT methylation/expression. The findings in this manuscript indicate that DNA hypermethylation plays an important role in the repression of GNMT in HCC and that loss of GNMT in human HCC could promote the establishment of aberrant DNA methylation patterns at specific gene promoters.
Epigenetic mechanisms play an important role in gene regulation during development. DNA methylation, which is probably the most important and best-studied epigenetic mechanism, can be abnormally regulated in common pathologies, but the origin of altered DNA methylation remains unknown. Recent research suggests that these epigenetic alterations could depend, at least in part, on genetic mutations or polymorphisms in DNA methyltransferases and certain genes encoding enzymes of the one-carbon metabolism pathway. Indeed, the de novo methyltransferase 3B (DNMT3B) has been recently found to be mutated in several types of cancer and in the immunodeficiency, centromeric region instability and facial anomalies syndrome (ICF), in which these mutations could be related to the loss of global DNA methylation. In addition, mutations in glycine-N-methyltransferase (GNMT) could be associated with a higher risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and liver disease due to an unbalanced S-adenosylmethionine (SAM)/S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) ratio, which leads to aberrant methylation reactions. Also, genetic variants of chromatin remodeling proteins and histone tail modifiers are involved in genetic disorders like ? thalassemia X-linked mental retardation syndrome, CHARGE syndrome, Cockayne syndrome, Rett syndrome, systemic lupus erythematous, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, Coffin-Lowry syndrome, Sotos syndrome, and facioescapulohumeral syndrome, among others. Here, we review the potential genetic alterations with a possible role on epigenetic factors and discuss their contribution to human disease.
Epigenetic variation is likely to contribute to the phenotypic plasticity and adaptative capacity of plant species, and may be especially important for long-lived organisms with complex life cycles, including forest trees. Diverse environmental stresses and hybridization/polyploidization events can create reversible heritable epigenetic marks that can be transmitted to subsequent generations as a form of molecular "memory". Epigenetic changes might also contribute to the ability of plants to colonize or persist in variable environments. In this review, we provide an overview of recent data on epigenetic mechanisms involved in developmental processes and responses to environmental cues in plant, with a focus on forest tree species. We consider the possible role of forest tree epigenetics as a new source of adaptive traits in plant breeding, biotechnology, and ecosystem conservation under rapid climate change.
Epigenetic deregulation is considered a common hallmark of cancer. Nevertheless, recent publications have demonstrated its association with a large array of human diseases. Here, we explore the DNA methylation dynamics in blood samples during hematopoietic cell transplant and how they are affected by pathophysiological events during transplant evolution. We analyzed global DNA methylation in a cohort of 47 patients with allogenic transplant up to 12 months post-transplant. Recipients stably maintained the donors global methylation levels after transplant. Nonetheless, global methylation is affected by chimerism status. Methylation analysis of promoters revealed that methylation in more than 200 genes is altered 1 month post-transplant when compared with non-pathological methylation levels in the donor. This number decreased by 6 months post-transplant. Finally, we analyzed methylation in IFN-?, FASL, IL-10, and PRF1 and found association with the severity of the acute graft-versus-host disease. Our results provide strong evidence that methylation changes in blood are linked to underlying physiological events and demonstrate that DNA methylation analysis is a viable strategy for the study of transplantation and for development of biomarkers.
BACKGROUND: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is a well characterized etiopathogenic factor for a variety of immune-related conditions, including lymphomas, lymphoproliferative disorders and autoimmune diseases. EBV-mediated transformation of resting B cells to proliferating lymphoblastoid cells occurs in early stages of infection and is an excellent model for investigating the mechanisms associated with acquisition of unlimited growth. RESULTS: We investigated the effects of experimental EBV infection of B cells on DNA methylation profiles by using high-throughput analysis. Remarkably, we observed hypomethylation of around 250 genes, but no hypermethylation. Hypomethylation did not occur at repetitive sequences, consistent with the absence of genomic instability in lymphoproliferative cells. Changes in methylation only occurred after cell divisions started, without the participation of the active demethylation machinery, and were concomitant with acquisition by B cells of the ability to proliferate. Gene Ontology analysis, expression profiling, and high-throughput analysis of the presence of transcription factor binding motifs and occupancy revealed that most genes undergoing hypomethylation are active and display the presence of NF-?B p65 and other B cell-specific transcription factors. Promoter hypomethylation was associated with upregulation of genes relevant for the phenotype of proliferating lymphoblasts. Interestingly, pharmacologically induced demethylation increased the efficiency of transformation of resting B cells to lymphoblastoid cells, consistent with productive cooperation between hypomethylation and lymphocyte proliferation. CONCLUSIONS: Our data provide novel clues on the role of the B cell transcription program leading to DNA methylation changes, which we find to be key to the EBV-associated conversion of resting B cells to proliferating lymphoblasts.
In mice, the proviral integration of the Friend Spleen Focus Forming Virus (SFFV) within the PU.1 locus of erythroid precursors results in the development of erythroleukemia. SFFV integrates several kilobases upstream of the PU.1 transcription initiation start site leading to the constitutive activation of the gene which in turn results in a block of erythroid differentiation. In this study we have mapped and sequenced the exact location of the retroviral integration site. We have shown that SFFV integrates downstream of a previously described upstream regulatory element (URE), precisely 2,976 bp downstream of the URE-distal element. We have also found that SFFV persists integrated within the same location in resistant cell lines that have lost their differentiation capacity and in which case PU.1 remains silent. We have examined the methylation status of PU.1 and found that in resistant cells the nearby CpG islands remained methylated in contrast to a non-methylated status of the parental cell lines. Treatment with 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine caused resistant cells to differentiate yet only when combined with HMBA. Altogether these results strongly suggest that methylation plays a crucial role with regard to PU.1 silencing. However, although demethylation is required, it is not sufficient to overcome the differentiation impasse. We have also showed that activation blockage of the Epo/Epo-R pathway remains despite of the absence of PU.1.
The realization of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) as a model for human developmental hematopoiesis and in potential cell replacement strategies relies on an improved understanding of the extrinsic and intrinsic factors regulating hematopoietic-specific hESC differentiation. Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are multipotent cells of mesodermal origin that form a part of hematopoietic stem cell niches and have an important role in the regulation of hematopoiesis through production of secreted factors and/or cell-to-cell interactions. We have previously shown that hESCs may be successfully maintained feeder free using hMSC-conditioned media (MSC-CM). Here, we hypothesized that hESCs maintained in MSC-CM may be more prone to differentiation toward hematopoietic lineage than hESCs grown in standard human foreskin fibroblast-conditioned media. We report that specification into hemogenic progenitors and subsequent hematopoietic differentiation and clonogenic progenitor capacity is robustly enhanced in hESC lines maintained in MSC-CM. Interestingly, co-culture of hESCs on hMSCs fully abrogates hematopoietic specification of hESCs, thus suggesting that the improved hematopoietic differentiation is mediated by MSC-secreted factors rather than by MSC-hESC physical interactions. To investigate the molecular mechanism involved in this process, we analyzed global (LINE-1) methylation and genome-wide promoter DNA methylation. hESCs grown in MSC-CM showed a decrease of 17% in global DNA methylation and a promoter DNA methylation signature consisting of 45 genes commonly hypomethylated and 102 genes frequently hypermethylated. Our data indicate that maintenance of hESCs in MSC-CM robustly augments hematopoietic specification and that the process seems mediated by MSC-secreted factors conferring a DNA methylation signature to undifferentiated hESCs which may influence further predisposition toward hematopoietic specification.
Global mechanisms defining the gene expression programs specific for hematopoiesis are still not fully understood. Here, we show that promoter DNA demethylation is associated with the activation of hematopoietic-specific genes. Using genome-wide promoter methylation arrays, we identified 694 hematopoietic-specific genes repressed by promoter DNA methylation in human embryonic stem cells and whose loss of methylation in hematopoietic can be associated with gene expression. The association between promoter methylation and gene expression was studied for many hematopoietic-specific genes including CD45, CD34, CD28, CD19, the T cell receptor (TCR), the MHC class II gene HLA-DR, perforin 1 and the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and results indicated that DNA demethylation was not always sufficient for gene activation. Promoter demethylation occurred either early during embryonic development or later on during hematopoietic differentiation. Analysis of the genome-wide promoter methylation status of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generated from somatic CD34(+) HSPCs and differentiated derivatives from CD34(+) HSPCs confirmed the role of DNA methylation in regulating the expression of genes of the hemato-immune system, and indicated that promoter methylation of these genes may be associated to stemness. Together, these data suggest that promoter DNA demethylation might play a role in the tissue/cell-specific genome-wide gene regulation within the hematopoietic compartment.
The physiological effects of the dietary polyphenol resveratrol are being extensively studied. Resveratrol has been proposed to promote healthy aging and to increase lifespan primarily through the activation of the class III histone deacetylases (sirtuins). Although its positive effects are evident in yeast and mice they still have to be confirmed in humans. The molecular mechanisms involved in the processes are not fully understood because resveratrol may have other targets than sirtuins and the direct activation of sirtuins by resveratrol is under debate.
Most of the studies characterizing DNA methylation patterns have been restricted to particular genomic loci in a limited number of human samples and pathological conditions. Herein, we present a compromise between an extremely comprehensive study of a human sample population with an intermediate level of resolution of CpGs at the genomic level. We obtained a DNA methylation fingerprint of 1628 human samples in which we interrogated 1505 CpG sites. The DNA methylation patterns revealed show this epigenetic mark to be critical in tissue-type definition and stemness, particularly around transcription start sites that are not within a CpG island. For disease, the generated DNA methylation fingerprints show that, during tumorigenesis, human cancer cells underwent a progressive gain of promoter CpG-island hypermethylation and a loss of CpG methylation in non-CpG-island promoters. Although transformed cells are those in which DNA methylation disruption is more obvious, we observed that other common human diseases, such as neurological and autoimmune disorders, had their own distinct DNA methylation profiles. Most importantly, we provide proof of principle that the DNA methylation fingerprints obtained might be useful for translational purposes by showing that we are able to identify the tumor type origin of cancers of unknown primary origin (CUPs). Thus, the DNA methylation patterns identified across the largest spectrum of samples, tissues, and diseases reported to date constitute a baseline for developing higher-resolution DNA methylation maps and provide important clues concerning the contribution of CpG methylation to tissue identity and its changes in the most prevalent human diseases.
The process of aging refers to the decay of an organisms structure and function, in which molecular and cellular modifications can have various effects at the individual level over the course of a lifetime. The accumulation of molecular errors that compromise adult stem cell functions occurs because of genetic and epigenetic interactions and depends on hereditary, environmental, and stochastic factors. Here we review the known genetic factors involved in aging.
Sirtuin 1 acts in various cell processes, deacetylating both chromatin and non-histone proteins, and its role in cancer and aging has long been studied and debated. Here we discuss another aspect of SirT1 biology, its function as a stem cell pluripotency and differentiation regulator. We evaluate the implications of these findings in sirtuin inhibition-based cancer treatment and in the application of sirtuin activation for anti-aging therapy.
Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) is a phenotypically and genotypically heterogeneous overgrowth syndrome characterized by somatic overgrowth, macroglossia and abdominal wall defects. Other usual findings are hemihyperplasia, embryonal tumours, adrenocortical cytomegaly, ear anomalies, visceromegaly, renal abnormalities, neonatal hypoglycaemia, cleft palate, polydactyly and a positive family history. BWS is a complex, multigenic disorder associated, in up to 90% of patients, with alteration in the expression or function of one or more genes in the 11p15.5 imprinted gene cluster. There are several molecular anomalies associated with BWS and the large proportion of cases, about 85%, is sporadic and karyotypically normal. One of the major categories of BWS molecular alteration (10-20% of cases) is represented by mosaic paternal uniparental disomy (pUPD), namely patients with two paternally derived copies of chromosome 11p15 and no maternal contribution for that. In these patients, in addition to the effects of IGF2 overexpression, a decreased level of the maternally expressed gene CDKN1C may contribute to the BWS phenotype. In this paper, we reviewed a series of nine patients with BWS because of pUPD using several methods with the aim to evaluate the percentage of mosaicism, the methylation status at both loci, the extension of the pUPD at the short arm and the breakpoints of recombination. Fine mapping of mitotic recombination breakpoints by single-nucleotide polymorphism-array in individuals with UPD and fine estimation of epigenetic defects will provide a basis for understanding the aetiology of BWS, allowing more accurate prognostic predictions and facilitating management and surveillance of individuals with this disorder.
DNA methylation is the best studied epigenetic factor, playing a key role in producing stable changes in gene expression, thus defining cell identity and function and adapting cells to environmental changes. DNA methylation has also been recently shown to mediate cell responses to physiological endocrine signals. Moreover, alterations of the normal DNA methylation pattern can also contribute to the development of endocrine and metabolic diseases and can explain the relationship between an individuals genetic background, the environment, and disease. It should be remarked that although DNA methylation and demethylation are active processes, epigenetic changes produced during development can impact adult processes, establishing the idea that endocrine function can be persistently affected by events occurring in early life. Given the complexity of the endocrine system, both genetic and epigenetic processes, including DNA methylation, must be involved in its proper development and functioning. In this study, we summarize the recent knowledge in the field of DNA methylation and endocrinology. Given that DNA methylation can be involved in a number of endocrine and metabolic disorders, understanding and manipulating this modification opens a new door for preventing and treating endocrine diseases.
Molecular studies in a patient with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome phenotype who developed two different tumours revealed an unexpected observation of almost complete loss of heterozygosity of all chromosomes. It is shown, by means of numerous molecular methods, that the absence of maternal contribution in somatic cells is due to high-degree (? 85%) genome-wide paternal uniparental disomy (UPD). The observations indicate that the genome-wide UPD results from diploidisation, and have important implications for genetic counselling and tumour surveillance for the growing number of UPD associated imprinting disorders.
The six major genes involved in hereditary susceptibility for pheochromocytoma (PCC)/paraganglioma (PGL) (RET, VHL, NF1, SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD) have been recently integrated into the same neuronal apoptotic pathway where mutations in any of these genes lead to cell death. In this model, prolyl hydroxylase 3 (EglN3) abrogation plays a pivotal role, but the molecular mechanisms underlying its inactivation are currently unknown. The aim of the study was to decipher specific alterations associated with the different genetic classes of PCCs/PGLs. With this purpose, 84 genetically characterized tumors were analyzed by means of transcriptional profiling. The analysis revealed a hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-related signature common to succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) and von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumors, that differentiated them from RET and neurofibromatosis type 1 cases. Both canonical HIF-1? and HIF-2? target genes were overexpressed in the SDH/VHL cluster, suggesting that a global HIF deregulation accounts for this common profile. Nevertheless, when we compared VHL tumors with SDHB cases, which often exhibit a malignant behavior, we found that HIF-1? target genes showed a predominant activation in the VHL PCCs. Expression data from 67 HIF target genes was sufficient to cluster SDHB and VHL tumors into two different groups, demonstrating different pseudo-hypoxic signatures. In addition, VHL-mutated tumors showed an unexpected overexpression of EglN3 mRNA that did not lead to significantly different EglN3 protein levels. These findings pave the way for more specific therapeutic approaches for malignant PCCs/PGLs management based on the patients genetic alteration.
Mutations in the nuclear envelope protein lamin A or in its processing protease ZMPSTE24 cause human accelerated aging syndromes, including Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Similarly, Zmpste24-deficient mice accumulate unprocessed prelamin A and develop multiple progeroid symptoms, thus representing a valuable animal model for the study of these syndromes. Zmpste24-deficient mice also show marked transcriptional alterations associated with chromatin disorganization, but the molecular links between both processes are unknown. We report herein that Zmpste24-deficient mice show a hypermethylation of rDNA that reduces the transcription of ribosomal genes, being this reduction reversible upon treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitors. This alteration has been previously described during physiological aging in rodents, suggesting its potential role in the development of the progeroid phenotypes. We also show that Zmpste24-deficient mice present global hypoacetylation of histones H2B and H4. By using a combination of RNA sequencing and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we demonstrate that these histone modifications are associated with changes in the expression of several genes involved in the control of cell proliferation and metabolic processes, which may contribute to the plethora of progeroid symptoms exhibited by Zmpste24-deficient mice. The identification of these altered genes may help to clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying aging and progeroid syndromes as well as to define new targets for the treatment of these dramatic diseases.
Aging is one of the most challenging and unresolved problems in biology owing to its highly complex nature. Public interest in aging has increased not only because all of us can expect to live to a ripe old age but also because we wish to avoid those age-related changes that lead to physical invalidity or other diseases (cancer, depression) and may ultimately cause social isolation. Aging is a process of genetic and epigenetic interactions at all biological levels, where epigenetics has an important function in determining the phenotypic differences that arise. Epigenetics also plays a key role in the development of diseases associated with aging and explains the relationship between an individuals genetic background, the environment, aging, and disease. DNA plasticity is mediated in part by the epigenetic changes that lead the role of a cell, and can be passed on to future generations. Epigenetics establishes the idea that our health can be affected not only by the interplay of our genes and environment but also by the inherited effects of our ancestors genes and environment.
DNA methylation plays a major role in cancer by silencing tumour suppressor genes. In melanoma, only a discrete number of methylated genes have been identified so far. After the treatment of melanoma cells with a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor and subsequent transcriptomic profiling, we had identified earlier a cohort of melanoma progression-associated genes regulated by methylation. Here, we identified which of these genes are directly methylated in melanoma cell lines and tissues. First, we examined 16 genes by bisulphite sequencing in the WM793 isogenic cell line model series. Five of these genes (CYBA, FABP5, MT1E, TSPY1 and TAC1) displayed increased methylation in several invasive cell lines compared with the parental WM793 cells, indicating their involvement in progression. Next, we analyzed several matched primary/metastatic tumours using methylation-specific PCR, which revealed that MT1E (one of the five genes assessed) was methylated in the largest proportion of tumours. Examination of a larger cohort of samples showed that 1 of 17 (6%) of the benign naevi, 16 of 43 (37%) primary tumours and 6 of 13 (46%) of the metastases displayed MT1E methylation. In addition, ectopic over-expression of MT1E mediated sensitization to cisplatin-induced apoptosis. Overall, these studies suggest that MT1E is a potential tumour suppressor gene, whose loss may promote resistance to apoptosis-inducing therapies.
The longevity-promoting NAD+-dependent class III histone deacetylase Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) is involved in stem cell function by controlling cell fate decision and/or by regulating the p53-dependent expression of NANOG. We show that SIRT1 is down-regulated precisely during human embryonic stem cell differentiation at both mRNA and protein levels and that the decrease in Sirt1 mRNA is mediated by a molecular pathway that involves the RNA-binding protein HuR and the arginine methyltransferase coactivator-associated arginine methyltransferase 1 (CARM1). SIRT1 down-regulation leads to reactivation of key developmental genes such as the neuroretinal morphogenesis effectors DLL4, TBX3, and PAX6, which are epigenetically repressed by this histone deacetylase in pluripotent human embryonic stem cells. Our results indicate that SIRT1 is regulated during stem cell differentiation in the context of a yet-unknown epigenetic pathway that controls specific developmental genes in embryonic stem cells.
Deletion of glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT), the main gene involved in liver S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) catabolism, leads to the hepatic accumulation of this molecule and the development of fatty liver and fibrosis in mice. To demonstrate that the excess of hepatic SAM is the main agent contributing to liver disease in GNMT knockout (KO) mice, we treated 1.5-month-old GNMT-KO mice for 6 weeks with nicotinamide (NAM), a substrate of the enzyme NAM N-methyltransferase. NAM administration markedly reduced hepatic SAM content, prevented DNA hypermethylation, and normalized the expression of critical genes involved in fatty acid metabolism, oxidative stress, inflammation, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. More importantly, NAM treatment prevented the development of fatty liver and fibrosis in GNMT-KO mice. Because GNMT expression is down-regulated in patients with cirrhosis, and because some subjects with GNMT mutations have spontaneous liver disease, the clinical implications of the present findings are obvious, at least with respect to these latter individuals. Because NAM has been used for many years to treat a broad spectrum of diseases (including pellagra and diabetes) without significant side effects, it should be considered in subjects with GNMT mutations.
Classically, aging has been defined as a general degeneration process that leads to the loss of corporal function. The loss of function caused by degeneration limits the maximum lifespan of all organisms and is linked to disease and cancer. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanisms behind aging and their connection to cancer are not well understood. NAD-dependent protein deacetylase enzymes, sirtuins, are emerging as a novel molecular link between aging and cancer due to their specific role in cell cycle regulation, antistress response and cell survival. This article reviews the contribution of sirtuins and environmental factors to ontogenic development, senescence and cancer.
Identification of gene expression based breast cancer subtypes is considered as a critical means of prognostication. Genetic mutations along with epigenetic alterations contribute to gene expression changes occurring in breast cancer. So far, these epigenetic contributions to sporadic breast cancer subtypes have not been well characterized, and there is only a limited understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms affected in those particular breast cancer subtypes. The present study was undertaken to dissect the breast cancer methylome and deliver specific epigenotypes associated with particular breast cancer subtypes.
The epigenomes of higher organisms constantly change over time. Many of these epigenetic changes are necessary to direct normal cellular development and differentiation in the developing organism. However, developmental abnormalities may occur in response to inappropriate epigenetic signaling that occurs secondarily to still poorly understood causes. In addition to genetic and stochastic influences on epigenetic processes, epigenetic variation can arise as a consequence of environmental factors. Here we review the effects of such environmental factors on the epigenomes of higher organisms. We discuss the possible impact of epigenetic changes on physiological and pathophysiological processes, depending in part on whether these changes occur during embryonic development or adulthood.
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are an attractive resource for new therapeutic approaches that involve tissue regeneration. hESCs have exhibited low immunogenicity due to low levels of Mayor Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class-I and absence of MHC class-II expression. Nevertheless, the mechanisms regulating MHC expression in hESCs had not been explored.
Wnt factors control cell differentiation through semi-independent molecular cascades known as the beta-catenin-dependent (canonical) and -independent (non-canonical) Wnt signalling pathways. Genetic and epigenetic alteration of components of the canonical Wnt signalling pathway is one of the primary mechanisms underlying colon cancer. Despite increasing evidence of the role of the non-canonical pathways in tumourigenesis, however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood.
Monozygotic (MZ) twins are partially concordant for most complex diseases, including autoimmune disorders. Whereas phenotypic concordance can be used to study heritability, discordance suggests the role of non-genetic factors. In autoimmune diseases, environmentally driven epigenetic changes are thought to contribute to their etiology. Here we report the first high-throughput and candidate sequence analyses of DNA methylation to investigate discordance for autoimmune disease in twins. We used a cohort of MZ twins discordant for three diseases whose clinical signs often overlap: systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, and dermatomyositis. Only MZ twins discordant for SLE featured widespread changes in the DNA methylation status of a significant number of genes. Gene ontology analysis revealed enrichment in categories associated with immune function. Individual analysis confirmed the existence of DNA methylation and expression changes in genes relevant to SLE pathogenesis. These changes occurred in parallel with a global decrease in the 5-methylcytosine content that was concomitantly accompanied with changes in DNA methylation and expression levels of ribosomal RNA genes, although no changes in repetitive sequences were found. Our findings not only identify potentially relevant DNA methylation markers for the clinical characterization of SLE patients but also support the notion that epigenetic changes may be critical in the clinical manifestations of autoimmune disease.
Sotos syndrome is an autosomal dominant condition characterized by overgrowth resulting in tall stature and macrocephaly, together with an increased risk of tumorigenesis. The disease is caused by loss-of-function mutations and deletions of the nuclear receptor SET domain containing protein-1 (NSD1) gene, which encodes a histone methyltransferase involved in chromatin regulation. However, despite its causal role in Sotos syndrome and the typical accelerated growth of these patients, little is known about the putative contribution of NSD1 to human sporadic malignancies. Here, we report that NSD1 function is abrogated in human neuroblastoma and glioma cells by transcriptional silencing associated with CpG island-promoter hypermethylation. We also demonstrate that the epigenetic inactivation of NSD1 in transformed cells leads to the specifically diminished methylation of the histone lysine residues H4-K20 and H3-K36. The described phenotype is also observed in Sotos syndrome patients with NSD1 genetic disruption. Expression microarray data from NSD1-depleted cells, followed by ChIP analysis, revealed that the oncogene MEIS1 is one of the main NSD1 targets in neuroblastoma. Furthermore, we show that the restoration of NSD1 expression induces tumor suppressor-like features, such as reduced colony formation density and inhibition of cellular growth. Screening a large collection of different tumor types revealed that NSD1 CpG island hypermethylation was a common event in neuroblastomas and gliomas. Most importantly, NSD1 hypermethylation was a predictor of poor outcome in high-risk neuroblastoma. These findings highlight the importance of NSD1 epigenetic inactivation in neuroblastoma and glioma that leads to a disrupted histone methylation landscape and might have a translational value as a prognostic marker.
Proteases have long been associated with tumor progression, given their ability to degrade extracellular matrix components and facilitate invasion and metastasis. However, recent findings indicate that different proteases can also act as tumor-suppressor enzymes. We have recently reported that lung carcinoma cells expressing the ADAMTS-12 metalloprotease show a remarkable impairment of growth in immunodeficient mice as compared with parental cells. Here, we show that ADAMTS12 promoter is hypermethylated in cancer cell lines and tumor tissues. Interestingly, ADAMTS12 expression in the stromal cells surrounding epithelial malignant cells is higher than in the paired normal tissues. Moreover, the expression of this metalloprotease in colon fibroblasts co-cultured with colon cancer cell lines is higher than in those cultured alone. Furthermore, the expression of ADAMTS-12 by these fibroblasts is linked with an anti-proliferative effect on tumor cells. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that ADAMTS-12 is a novel anti-tumor protease that can reduce the proliferative properties of tumor cells. This function is lost by epigenetic silencing in tumor cells, but concurrently induced in stromal cells, probably as part of a response of the normal tissue aimed at controlling the progression of cancer.
Mast cells synthesize and store histamine, a key immunomodulatory mediator. Polyamines are essential for every living cell. Previously, we detected an antagonistic relationship between the metabolisms of these amines in established mast cell and basophilic cell lines. Here, we used the IL-3-driven mouse bone marrow-derived mast cell (BMMC) culture system to further investigate this antagonism in a mast cell model of deeper physiological significance. Polyamines and histamine levels followed opposite profiles along the bone marrow cell cultures leading to BMMCs. alpha-Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO)-induced polyamine depletion resulted in an upregulation of histidine decarboxylase (HDC, the histamine-synthesizing enzyme) expression and activity, accompanied by increased histamine levels, specifically during early stages of these cell cultures, where an active histamine synthesis process occurs. In contrast, DFMO did not induce any effect in either HDC activity or histamine levels of differentiated BMMCs or C57.1 mast cells, that exhibit a nearly inactive histamine synthesis rate. Sequence-specific DNA methylation analysis revealed that the DFMO-induced HDC mRNA upregulation observed in early bone marrow cell cultures is not attributable to a demethylation of the gene promoter caused by the pharmacological polyamine depletion. Taken together, the results support an inverse relationship between histamine and polyamine metabolisms during the bone marrow cell cultures leading to BMMCs and, moreover, suggest that the regulation of the histamine synthesis occurring during the early stages of these cultures depends on the concentrations of polyamines.
Lymphomas are assumed to originate at different stages of lymphocyte development through chromosomal aberrations. Thus, different lymphomas resemble lymphocytes at distinct differentiation stages and show characteristic morphologic, genetic, and transcriptional features. Here, we have performed a microarray-based DNA methylation profiling of 83 mature aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (maB-NHLs) characterized for their morphologic, genetic, and transcriptional features, including molecular Burkitt lymphomas and diffuse large B-cell lymphomas. Hierarchic clustering indicated that methylation patterns in maB-NHLs were not strictly associated with morphologic, genetic, or transcriptional features. By supervised analyses, we identified 56 genes de novo methylated in all lymphoma subtypes studied and 22 methylated in a lymphoma subtype-specific manner. Remarkably, the group of genes de novo methylated in all lymphoma subtypes was significantly enriched for polycomb targets in embryonic stem cells. De novo methylated genes in all maB-NHLs studied were expressed at low levels in lymphomas and normal hematopoietic tissues but not in nonhematopoietic tissues. These findings, especially the enrichment for polycomb targets in stem cells, indicate that maB-NHLs with different morphologic, genetic, and transcriptional background share a similar stem cell-like epigenetic pattern. This suggests that maB-NHLs originate from cells with stem cell features or that stemness was acquired during lymphomagenesis by epigenetic remodeling.
Many age-associated conditions, such as the decrease in regenerative capacity of tissues, appear to be determined by a decline in the function of specific somatic stem cells. Although it is obvious that the genotype determines the average lifespan of different species, the variation in lifespan of individuals within a species seems to be more affected by the accumulation over time of molecular errors that compromise adult stem cell function. These molecular alterations can occur at both the genetic and epigenetic levels and depend on hereditary, environmental, and stochastic factors. This complex multifactorial mixture determines characteristics, such as longevity and a healthy life, that are central concerns of human existence.
Ephedrines are sympathomimetic amines which have central nervous system stimulating properties and, for this reason, some of them are forbidden in sport by the World Antidoping Agency (WADA). They are screened and quantitated in urine by several published techniques and confirmed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). In this paper, a simple and easy confirmation procedure for norpseudoephedrine, norephedrine, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in human urine by GC/electron ionization (EI)-MS is described. After the addition of diphenylamine as internal standard, a liquid-liquid extraction procedure under alkaline conditions with tert-butyl methyl ether was applied to the samples. The analytes were derivatized with acetone and pyridine to form the correspondent oxazolidine derivatives (acetonide). The EI mass spectra of all the studied substances have many diagnostic ions with relative abundance in accordance with WADA requirements and show great structural information content. The fragmentation of theses derivatives is discussed.
The role of epigenetics in aging and age-related diseases is a key issue in molecular physiology and medicine because certain epigenetic factors are thought to mediate, at least in part, the relationship between the genome and the environment. An active role for epigenetics in aging must meet two prior conditions: there must be specific epigenetic changes during aging and they must be functionally associated with the aged phenotype. Assuming that specific epigenetic modifications can have a direct functional outcome in aging, it is also essential to establish whether they depend on genetic, environmental or stochastic factors, and if they can be transmitted from one generation to the next. Here we discuss current knowledge about these matters and future directions in the field.
The molecular basis underlying the aberrant DNA-methylation patterns in human cancer is largely unknown. Altered DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) activity is believed to contribute, as DNMT expression levels increase during tumorigenesis. Here, we present evidence that the expression of DNMT3b is post-transcriptionally regulated by HuR, an RNA-binding protein that stabilizes and/or modulates the translation of target mRNAs. The presence of a putative HuR-recognition motif in the DNMT3b 3UTR prompted studies to investigate if this transcript associated with HuR. The interaction between HuR and DNMT3b mRNA was studied by immunoprecipitation of endogenous HuR ribonucleoprotein complexes followed by RT-qPCR detection of DNMT3b mRNA, and by in vitro pulldown of biotinylated DNMT3b RNAs followed by western blotting detection of HuR. These studies revealed that binding of HuR stabilized the DNMT3b mRNA and increased DNMT3b expression. Unexpectedly, cisplatin treatment triggered the dissociation of the [HuR-DNMT3b mRNA] complex, in turn promoting DNMT3b mRNA decay, decreasing DNMT3b abundance, and lowering the methylation of repeated sequences and global DNA methylation. In summary, our data identify DNMT3b mRNA as a novel HuR target, present evidence that HuR affects DNMT3b expression levels post-transcriptionally, and reveal the functional consequences of the HuR-regulated DNMT3b upon DNA methylation patterns.
Two approaches for the evaluation of the relative degree of global DNA methylation through the quantification of 2 deoxynucleosides are described. Detection and quantification of 5-methyl 2-deoxycytidine in genomic DNA is performed using both high-performance capillary electrophoresis (HPCE) with UV-Vis detection or liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization mass spectrometric detection (LC-ESI/MS). Treatment of genomic DNA with a ribonuclease and generation of nucleosides through enzymatic hydrolysis notably increases the specificity of both techniques. Both approaches have been demonstrated to be highly specific and sensitive, being useful for the rapid quantification of the degree of global DNA methylation and its exploitation for the analysis of poorly purified and/or concentrated DNA samples, such as tumor biopsies.
The interest in exploring the role of epigenetics in the aging process has grown tremendously in recent years as demonstrated, in part, by the steadily increasing number of papers that have been published in the area. In addition, there has been and continues to be rapid improvement in the technologies needed to do the work. However, significant challenges remain, not the least of which is inherent to the aging process itself, that is, that even given a uniform genetic background and external environment, aging is a "heterogeneous" phenomenon with variation in the expression of the aging phenotype evident both between and within individuals. Thus, there is a pressing need to find experimental approaches that recognize this reality and deal with it effectively whether it is in the choice of animal model, cell, or tissue sampling or the use of techniques capable of analyzing small samples, ideally in situ and in a longitudinal fashion. Undoubtedly, because of the complexity of the situation and what are likely to be very large data sets, bioinformatics and systems biology are also going to be needed, something discussed in detail elsewhere in the report of the meeting.
The natural history of cancers associated with virus exposure is intriguing, since only a minority of human tissues infected with these viruses inevitably progress to cancer. However, the molecular reasons why the infection is controlled or instead progresses to subsequent stages of tumorigenesis are largely unknown. In this article, we provide the first complete DNA methylomes of double-stranded DNA viruses associated with human cancer that might provide important clues to help us understand the described process. Using bisulfite genomic sequencing of multiple clones, we have obtained the DNA methylation status of every CpG dinucleotide in the genome of the Human Papilloma Viruses 16 and 18 and Human Hepatitis B Virus, and in all the transcription start sites of the Epstein-Barr Virus. These viruses are associated with infectious diseases (such as hepatitis B and infectious mononucleosis) and the development of human tumors (cervical, hepatic, and nasopharyngeal cancers, and lymphoma), and are responsible for 1 million deaths worldwide every year. The DNA methylomes presented provide evidence of the dynamic nature of the epigenome in contrast to the genome. We observed that the DNA methylome of these viruses evolves from an unmethylated to a highly methylated genome in association with the progression of the disease, from asymptomatic healthy carriers, through chronically infected tissues and pre-malignant lesions, to the full-blown invasive tumor. The observed DNA methylation changes have a major functional impact on the biological behavior of the viruses.
DNA methylation is essential for silencing transposable elements and some genes in higher eukaryotes, which suggests that this modification must be tightly controlled. However, accidental changes in DNA methylation can be transmitted through mitosis (as in cancer) or meiosis, leading to epiallelic variation. We demonstrated the existence of an efficient mechanism that protects against transgenerational loss of DNA methylation in Arabidopsis. Remethylation is specific to the subset of heavily methylated repeats that are targeted by the RNA interference (RNAi) machinery. This process does not spread into flanking regions, is usually progressive over several generations, and faithfully restores wild-type methylation over target sequences in an RNAi-dependent manner. Our findings suggest an important role for RNAi in protecting genomes against long-term epigenetic defects.
Monozygotic twins discordant for type 2 diabetes constitute an ideal model to study environmental contributions to type 2 diabetic traits. We aimed to examine whether global DNA methylation differences exist in major glucose metabolic tissues from these twins.
Chemical changes performed on 1a (sirtinol) led to a series of SIRT1/2 inhibitors, in some cases more potent than 1a mainly against SIRT1. Tested in human leukemia U937 cells, the benzamide and anilide derivatives 1b, 1c, 2b, and 2c as well as the 4-(2-phenylpropyl)thioanalogue 4c showed huge apoptosis induction, while some sulfinyl and sulfonyl derivatives (5b, 5c, and 6a-c) were highly efficient in granulocytic differentiation. When assayed in human leukemia MOLT4 as well as in human breast MDA-MB-231 and colon RKO cancer cell lines, the anilide 2b (salermide) and the phenylpropylthio analogue 4b emerged as the most potent antiproliferative agents. Tested on colorectal carcinoma and glioblastoma multiforme cancer stem cells (CSCs) from patients, 2b was particularly potent against colorectal carcinoma CSCs, while 4b, 6a, and the SIRT2-selective inhibitor AGK-2 showed the highest effect against glioblastoma multiforme CSCs. Such compounds will be further explored for their broad-spectrum anticancer properties.
Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF/CSF2) is a cytokine produced in the hematologic compartment that may enhance antitumor immune responses, mainly by activation of dendritic cells. Here, we show that more than one-third of human colorectal tumors exhibit aberrant DNA demethylation of the GM-CSF promoter and overexpress the cytokine. Mouse engraftment experiments with autologous and homologous colon tumors engineered to repress the ectopic secretion of GM-CSF revealed the tumor-secreted GM-CSF to have an immune-associated antitumor effect. Unexpectedly, an immune-independent antitumor effect was observed that depended on the ectopic expression of GM-CSF receptor subunits by tumors. Cancer cells expressing GM-CSF and its receptor did not develop into tumors when autografted into immunocompetent mice. Similarly, 100% of the patients with human colon tumors that overexpressed GM-CSF and its receptor subunits survived at least 5 years after diagnosis. These data suggest that expression of GM-CSF and its receptor subunits by colon tumors may be a useful marker for prognosis as well as for patient stratification in cancer immunotherapy.
Abstract DNA methylation is one of the best-known epigenetic modifications in mammals. The alteration of DNA methylation patterns has been found to be related to many diseases, including cancer. It is well-known that during carcinogenesis, a site-specific DNA hypermethylation and a global DNA hypomethylation take place. This overall loss of DNA methylation has been proposed as a valid biomarker for cancer. Given its medical utility, in recent years it has become apparent that there is a need to develop methods for the analysis of DNA methylation using different approaches: global, locus-specific, or genome-wide. Here we review some of these techniques and discuss their potential clinical utility.
During hematopoiesis, a unique hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) from the bone marrow gives rise to a subset of mature blood cells that directs all the immune responses. Recent studies have shown that this well-defined, hierarchical process is regulated in part by epigenetic mechanisms. Changes in the DNA methylation profile have a critical role in the division of these stem cells into the myeloid and lymphoid lineages and in the establishment of a specific phenotype and functionality in each terminally differentiated cell type. In this review, we describe how the DNA methylation patterns are modified during hematopoietic differentiation and what their role is in cell plasticity and immune function. An in-depth knowledge of these epigenetic mechanisms will help clarify how cell type-specific gene programs are established, and how they can be leveraged in the development of novel strategies for treating immune system-related pathologies.
Growth and development of higher organisms are regulated by the orchestrated change of epigenetic marks over time. In addition, there is also an epigenetic variation without any apparent role in development that is thought to be the result of the stochastic accumulation of epigenetic errors. The process depends on genetic and environmental factors and, when it takes place in adult stem cells, it could play an important role in aging, although the underlying molecular mechanisms are still largely unknown.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a tumour type that generally carries very complex chromosomal aberrations. An interesting feature is the elevated occurrence (58 %) of whole arm translocations and isochromosomes, resulting from breakage and illegitimate recombination in centromeric or pericentromeric regions. We hypothesized that alterations in DNA methylation may play a role in the breakage of centromeric repeat sequences in these tumours.
Aberrant promoter DNA hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes is a hallmark of cancer. This alteration is largely dependent on the action of de novo DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) early during tumor progression, which supports the oncogenic role for these enzymes. However, recent research has identified several inactivating mutations of de novo DNMTs in various types of tumor. In addition, it has been shown that loss of de novo DNA methylation activity at advanced tumor stages leads to the promoter DNA demethylation-dependent expression of specific oncogenes. These new data support the notion that de novo DNMTs also have an important role in the maintenance of DNA methylation and suggest that, in addition to acting as oncogenes, they also behave as tumor suppressors. This potential dual role might have clinical implications, as DNMTs are currently considered bona fide targets in cancer therapy.
Human aging cannot be fully understood in terms of the constrained genetic setting. Epigenetic drift is an alternative means of explaining age-associated alterations. To address this issue, we performed whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) of newborn and centenarian genomes. The centenarian DNA had a lower DNA methylation content and a reduced correlation in the methylation status of neighboring cytosine--phosphate--guanine (CpGs) throughout the genome in comparison with the more homogeneously methylated newborn DNA. The more hypomethylated CpGs observed in the centenarian DNA compared with the neonate covered all genomic compartments, such as promoters, exonic, intronic, and intergenic regions. For regulatory regions, the most hypomethylated sequences in the centenarian DNA were present mainly at CpG-poor promoters and in tissue-specific genes, whereas a greater level of DNA methylation was observed in CpG island promoters. We extended the study to a larger cohort of newborn and nonagenarian samples using a 450,000 CpG-site DNA methylation microarray that reinforced the observation of more hypomethylated DNA sequences in the advanced age group. WGBS and 450,000 analyses of middle-age individuals demonstrated DNA methylomes in the crossroad between the newborn and the nonagenarian/centenarian groups. Our study constitutes a unique DNA methylation analysis of the extreme points of human life at a single-nucleotide resolution level.
In vitro culture is one of the most studied techniques, and it is used to study many developmental processes, especially in forestry species, because of growth timing and easy manipulation. Epigenetics has been shown as an important influence on many research analyses such as cancer in mammals and developmental processes in plants such as flowering, but regarding in vitro culture, techniques to study DNA methylation or chromatin modifications were mainly limited to identify somaclonal variation of the micropropagated material. Because in vitro culture is not only a way to generate plant material but also a bunch of differentially induced developmental processes, an approach of techniques and some research carried out to study the different changes regarding DNA methylation and chromatin and translational modifications that take place during these processes is reviewed.
During development of multicellular organisms, cells become differentiated by modulating different programs of gene expression. Cells have their own epigenetic signature which reflects genotype, developmental history, and environmental influences, and it is ultimately reflected in the phenotype of the cells and the organism. However, in normal development or disease situations, such as adaptation to climate change or during in vitro culture, some cells undergo major epigenetic reprogramming involving the removal of epigenetic marks in the nuclei followed by the establishment of a different new set of marks. Compared with animal cells, biotech-mediated achievements are reduced in plants despite the presence of cell polypotency. In forestry, any sustainable developments using biotech tools remain restricted to the lab, without progressing to the field for application. Such barriers in the translation between development and implementation need to be addressed by organizations that have the power to integrate these two fields. However, a lack of understanding of gene regulation is also to blame for this barrier. In recent years, great progress has been made in unraveling the control of gene expression. These advances are discussed in this chapter, including the possibility of applying this knowledge in forestry practice.
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