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Targeted gene ablation studies of the endocrine pancreas have long suffered from suboptimal Cre deleter strains. In many cases, Cre lines purportedly specific for beta cells also displayed expression in other islet endocrine cells or in a subset of neurons in the brain. Several pancreas and endocrine Cre lines have experienced silencing or mosaicism over time. In addition, many Cre transgenic constructs were designed to include the hGH mini-gene, which by itself increases beta-cell replication and decreases beta-cell function. More recently, driver lines with Cre or CreER inserted into the Ins1 locus were generated, with the intent of producing β cell-specific Cre lines with faithful recapitulation of insulin expression. These lines were bred in multiple labs to several different mouse lines harboring various lox alleles. In our hands, the ability of the Ins1-Cre and Ins1-CreER lines to delete target genes varied from that originally reported, with both alleles displaying low levels of expression, increased levels of methylation compared to the wild-type allele, and ultimately inefficient or absent target deletion. Thus, caution is warranted in the interpretation of results obtained with these genetic tools, and Cre expression and activity should be monitored regularly when using these lines.
© Endocrine Society 2020. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com.
The stress response system is disrupted in individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) as well as in those at elevated risk for developing MDD. We examined whether DNA methylation (DNAm) levels of CpG sites within HPA-axis genes predict the onset of MDD. Seventy-seven girls, approximately half (n = 37) of whom were at familial risk for MDD, were followed longitudinally. Saliva samples were taken in adolescence (M age = 13.06 years [SD = 1.52]) when participants had no current or past MDD diagnosis. Diagnostic interviews were administered approximately every 18 months until the first onset of MDD or early adulthood (M age of last follow-up = 19.23 years [SD = 2.69]). We quantified DNAm in saliva samples using the Illumina EPIC chip and examined CpG sites within six key HPA-axis genes (NR3C1, NR3C2, CRH, CRHR1, CRHR2, FKBP5) alongside 59 genotypes for tagging SNPs capturing cis genetic variability. DNAm levels within CpG sites in NR3C1, CRH, CRHR1, and CRHR2 were associated with risk for MDD across adolescence and young adulthood. To rule out the possibility that findings were merely due to the contribution of genetic variability, we re-analyzed the data controlling for cis genetic variation within these candidate genes. Importantly, methylation levels in these CpG sites continued to significantly predict the onset of MDD, suggesting that variation in the epigenome, independent of proximal genetic variants, prospectively predicts the onset of MDD. These findings suggest that variation in the HPA axis at the level of the methylome may predict the development of MDD.
Factors contributing to development of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) are not fully understood. This study examined possible epigenetic mechanisms that may contribute to CRPS after traumatic injury. DNA methylation profiles were compared between individuals developing CRPS (n = 9) and those developing non-CRPS neuropathic pain (n = 38) after undergoing amputation following military trauma. Linear Models for Microarray (LIMMA) analyses revealed 48 differentially methylated cytosine-phosphate-guanine dinucleotide (CpG) sites between groups (unadjusted P's < 0.005), with the top gene COL11A1 meeting Bonferroni-adjusted P < 0.05. The second largest differential methylation was observed for the HLA-DRB6 gene, an immune-related gene linked previously to CRPS in a small gene expression study. For all but 7 of the significant CpG sites, the CRPS group was hypomethylated. Numerous functional Gene Ontology-Biological Process categories were significantly enriched (false discovery rate-adjusted q value <0.15), including multiple immune-related categories (eg, activation of immune response, immune system development, regulation of immune system processes, and antigen processing and presentation). Differentially methylated genes were more highly connected in human protein-protein networks than expected by chance (P < 0.05), supporting the biological relevance of the findings. Results were validated in an independent sample linking a DNA biobank with electronic health records (n = 126 CRPS phenotype, n = 19,768 non-CRPS chronic pain phenotype). Analyses using PrediXcan methodology indicated differences in the genetically determined component of gene expression in 7 of 48 genes identified in methylation analyses (P's < 0.02). Results suggest that immune- and inflammatory-related factors might confer risk of developing CRPS after traumatic injury. Validation findings demonstrate the potential of using electronic health records linked to DNA for genomic studies of CRPS.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes (T2D). We aimed to identify the peripheral blood DNA methylation signature of hepatic fat. We conducted epigenome-wide association studies of hepatic fat in 3,400 European ancestry (EA) participants and in 401 Hispanic ancestry and 724 African ancestry participants from four population-based cohort studies. Hepatic fat was measured using computed tomography or ultrasound imaging and DNA methylation was assessed at >400,000 cytosine-guanine dinucleotides (CpGs) in whole blood or CD14+ monocytes using a commercial array. We identified 22 CpGs associated with hepatic fat in EA participants at a false discovery rate <0.05 (corresponding = 6.9 × 10) with replication at Bonferroni-corrected < 8.6 × 10 Mendelian randomization analyses supported the association of hypomethylation of cg08309687 () with NAFLD ( = 2.5 × 10). Hypomethylation of the same CpG was also associated with risk for new-onset T2D ( = 0.005). Our study demonstrates that a peripheral blood-derived DNA methylation signature is robustly associated with hepatic fat accumulation. The hepatic fat-associated CpGs may represent attractive biomarkers for T2D. Future studies are warranted to explore mechanisms and to examine DNA methylation signatures of NAFLD across racial/ethnic groups.
© 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.
OBJECTIVE - The loss of liver glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) promotes liver steatosis and the transition to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Previous work showed endogenous glucose production is reduced in GNMT-null mice with gluconeogenic precursors being used in alternative biosynthetic pathways that utilize methyl donors and are linked to tumorigenesis. This metabolic programming occurs before the appearance of HCC in GNMT-null mice. The metabolic physiology that sustains liver tumor formation in GNMT-null mice is unknown. The studies presented here tested the hypothesis that nutrient flux pivots from glucose production to pathways that incorporate and metabolize methyl groups in GNMT-null mice with HCC.
METHODS - H/C metabolic flux analysis was performed in conscious, unrestrained mice lacking GNMT to quantify glucose formation and associated nutrient fluxes. Molecular analyses of livers from mice lacking GNMT including metabolomic, immunoblotting, and immunochemistry were completed to fully interpret the nutrient fluxes.
RESULTS - GNMT knockout (KO) mice showed lower blood glucose that was accompanied by a reduction in liver glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. NAD was lower and the NAD(P)H-to-NAD(P) ratio was higher in livers of KO mice. Indices of NAD synthesis and catabolism, pentose phosphate pathway flux, and glutathione synthesis were dysregulated in KO mice.
CONCLUSION - Glucose precursor flux away from glucose formation towards pathways that regulate redox status increase in the liver. Moreover, synthesis and scavenging of NAD are both impaired resulting in reduced concentrations. This metabolic program blunts an increase in methyl donor availability, however, biosynthetic pathways underlying HCC are activated.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH.. All rights reserved.
Whether patients with glioblastoma that contacts the ventricular-subventricular zone stem cell niche (VSVZ + GBM) have a distinct survival profile from VSVZ - GBM patients independent of other known predictors or molecular profiles is unclear. Using multivariate Cox analysis to adjust survival for widely-accepted predictors, hazard ratios (HRs) for overall (OS) and progression free (PFS) survival between VSVZ + GBM and VSVZ - GBM patients were calculated in 170 single-institution patients and 254 patients included in both The Cancer Genome (TCGA) and Imaging (TCIA) atlases. An adjusted, multivariable analysis revealed that VSVZ contact was independently associated with decreased survival in both datasets. TCGA molecular data analyses revealed that VSVZ contact by GBM was independent of mutational, DNA methylation, gene expression, and protein expression signatures in the bulk tumor. Therefore, while survival of GBM patients is independently stratified by VSVZ contact, with VSVZ + GBM patients displaying a poor prognosis, the VSVZ + GBMs do not possess a distinct molecular signature at the bulk sample level. Focused examination of the interplay between the VSVZ microenvironment and subsets of GBM cells proximal to this region is warranted.
DNA methylation is instrumental for gene regulation. Global changes in the epigenetic landscape have been recognized as a hallmark of cancer. However, the role of DNA methylation in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) remains unclear. In this study, high-density genetic and DNA methylation data in white blood cells from the Framingham Heart Study ( = 1,595) were used to build genetic models to predict DNA methylation levels. These prediction models were then applied to the summary statistics of a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of ovarian cancer including 22,406 EOC cases and 40,941 controls to investigate genetically predicted DNA methylation levels in association with EOC risk. Among 62,938 CpG sites investigated, genetically predicted methylation levels at 89 CpG were significantly associated with EOC risk at a Bonferroni-corrected threshold of < 7.94 × 10. Of them, 87 were located at GWAS-identified EOC susceptibility regions and two resided in a genomic region not previously reported to be associated with EOC risk. Integrative analyses of genetic, methylation, and gene expression data identified consistent directions of associations across 12 CpG, five genes, and EOC risk, suggesting that methylation at these 12 CpG may influence EOC risk by regulating expression of these five genes, namely , and . We identified novel DNA methylation markers associated with EOC risk and propose that methylation at multiple CpG may affect EOC risk via regulation of gene expression. SIGNIFICANCE: Identification of novel DNA methylation markers associated with EOC risk suggests that methylation at multiple CpG may affect EOC risk through regulation of gene expression.
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
BACKGROUND - The effects of tobacco smoking on epigenome-wide methylation signatures in white blood cells (WBCs) collected from persons living with HIV may have important implications for their immune-related outcomes, including frailty and mortality. The application of a machine learning approach to the analysis of CpG methylation in the epigenome enables the selection of phenotypically relevant features from high-dimensional data. Using this approach, we now report that a set of smoking-associated DNA-methylated CpGs predicts HIV prognosis and mortality in an HIV-positive veteran population.
RESULTS - We first identified 137 epigenome-wide significant CpGs for smoking in WBCs from 1137 HIV-positive individuals (p < 1.70E-07). To examine whether smoking-associated CpGs were predictive of HIV frailty and mortality, we applied ensemble-based machine learning to build a model in a training sample employing 408,583 CpGs. A set of 698 CpGs was selected and predictive of high HIV frailty in a testing sample [(area under curve (AUC) = 0.73, 95%CI 0.63~0.83)] and was replicated in an independent sample [(AUC = 0.78, 95%CI 0.73~0.83)]. We further found an association of a DNA methylation index constructed from the 698 CpGs that were associated with a 5-year survival rate [HR = 1.46; 95%CI 1.06~2.02, p = 0.02]. Interestingly, the 698 CpGs located on 445 genes were enriched on the integrin signaling pathway (p = 9.55E-05, false discovery rate = 0.036), which is responsible for the regulation of the cell cycle, differentiation, and adhesion.
CONCLUSION - We demonstrated that smoking-associated DNA methylation features in white blood cells predict HIV infection-related clinical outcomes in a population living with HIV.
The sustained expression of the MAFB transcription factor in human islet β-cells represents a distinct difference in mice. Moreover, mRNA expression of closely related and islet β-cell-enriched MAFA does not peak in humans until after 9 years of age. We show that the MAFA protein also is weakly produced within the juvenile human islet β-cell population and that expression is postnatally restricted in mouse β-cells by de novo DNA methylation. To gain insight into how MAFB affects human β-cells, we developed a mouse model to ectopically express in adult mouse β-cells using transcriptional control sequences. Coexpression of MafB with MafA had no overt impact on mouse β-cells, suggesting that the human adult β-cell MAFA/MAFB heterodimer is functionally equivalent to the mouse MafA homodimer. However, MafB alone was unable to rescue the islet β-cell defects in a mouse mutant lacking MafA in β-cells. Of note, transgenic production of MafB in β-cells elevated tryptophan hydroxylase 1 mRNA production during pregnancy, which drives the serotonin biosynthesis critical for adaptive maternal β-cell responses. Together, these studies provide novel insight into the role of MAFB in human islet β-cells.
© 2018 by the American Diabetes Association.
We present an integromic analysis of gene alterations that modulate transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)-Smad-mediated signaling in 9,125 tumor samples across 33 cancer types in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Focusing on genes that encode mediators and regulators of TGF-β signaling, we found at least one genomic alteration (mutation, homozygous deletion, or amplification) in 39% of samples, with highest frequencies in gastrointestinal cancers. We identified mutation hotspots in genes that encode TGF-β ligands (BMP5), receptors (TGFBR2, AVCR2A, and BMPR2), and Smads (SMAD2 and SMAD4). Alterations in the TGF-β superfamily correlated positively with expression of metastasis-associated genes and with decreased survival. Correlation analyses showed the contributions of mutation, amplification, deletion, DNA methylation, and miRNA expression to transcriptional activity of TGF-β signaling in each cancer type. This study provides a broad molecular perspective relevant for future functional and therapeutic studies of the diverse cancer pathways mediated by the TGF-β superfamily.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.