Aberrant de novo methylation of the p16INK4A CpG island is initiated post gene silencing in association with chromatin remodelling and mimics nucleosome positioning.
ABSTRACT Changes in the epigenetic landscape are widespread in neoplasia, with de novo methylation and histone repressive marks commonly enriched in CpG island associated promoter regions. DNA hypermethylation and histone repression correlate with gene silencing, however, the dynamics of this process are still largely unclear. The tumour suppressor gene p16(INK4A) is inactivated in association with CpG island methylation during neoplastic progression in a variety of cancers, including breast cancer. Here, we investigated the temporal progression of DNA methylation and histone remodelling in the p16(INK4A) CpG island in primary human mammary epithelial cell (HMEC) strains during selection, as a model for early breast cancer. Silencing of p16(INK4A) has been previously shown to be necessary before HMECs can escape from selection. Here, we demonstrate that gene silencing occurs prior to de novo methylation and histone remodelling. An increase in DNA methylation was associated with a rapid loss of both histone H3K27 trimethylation and H3K9 acetylation and a gradual gain of H3K9 dimethylation. Interestingly, we found that regional-specific 'seeding' methylation occurs early after post-selection and that the de novo methylation pattern observed in HMECs correlates with the apparent footprint of nucleosomes across the p16(INK4A) CpG island. Our results demonstrate for the first time that p16(INK4A) gene silencing is a precursor to epigenetic suppression and that subsequent de novo methylation initially occurs in nucleosome-free regions across the p16(INK4A) CpG island and this is associated with a dynamic change in histone modifications.
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ABSTRACT: Adult cancers may derive from stem or early progenitor cells. Epigenetic modulation of gene expression is essential for normal function of these early cells but is highly abnormal in cancers, which often show aberrant promoter CpG island hypermethylation and transcriptional silencing of tumor suppressor genes and pro-differentiation factors. We find that for such genes, both normal and malignant embryonic cells generally lack the hypermethylation of DNA found in adult cancers. In embryonic stem cells, these genes are held in a 'transcription-ready' state mediated by a 'bivalent' promoter chromatin pattern consisting of the repressive mark, histone H3 methylated at Lys27 (H3K27) by Polycomb group proteins, plus the active mark, methylated H3K4. However, embryonic carcinoma cells add two key repressive marks, dimethylated H3K9 and trimethylated H3K9, both associated with DNA hypermethylation in adult cancers. We hypothesize that cell chromatin patterns and transient silencing of these important regulatory genes in stem or progenitor cells may leave these genes vulnerable to aberrant DNA hypermethylation and heritable gene silencing during tumor initiation and progression.Nature Genetics 03/2007; 39(2):237-42. · 35.21 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: When the human beta-globin gene was methylated at every cytosine residue and was inserted into mouse fibroblasts by DNA-mediated gene transfer, the transcription of the gene was strongly inhibited. This methylation also prevented expression and induction of the gene in mouse erythroleukemia cells. By using partially methylated hybrid molecules, it was shown that methylation-sensitive negative regulatory elements are located in both the 5' and 3' ends of the beta-globin gene but not in the 90-base-pair region usually associated with promoter activity. To further investigate the role of DNA methylation in the regulation of the beta-globin gene, 50-base-pair poly(dG-dC) tracts were introduced into various sites in a mouse-human hybrid gene, and these inserts were methylated by means of the Hha I methylase. Heavy methylation of these artificially added sites had no effect on either transcription initiation or elongation, suggesting that DNA modification operates through fixed endogenous sites in the gene domain.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/1988; 85(13):4638-42. · 9.74 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Chromatin organization and transcriptional regulation are interrelated processes. A shortcoming of current experimental approaches to these complex events is the lack of methods that can capture the activation process on single promoters. We have recently described a method that combines methyltransferase M.SssI treatment of intact nuclei and bisulfite sequencing allowing the representation of replicas of single promoters in terms of protected and unprotected footprint modules. Here we combine this method with computational analysis to study single molecule dynamics of transcriptional activation in the stress inducible GRP78 promoter. We show that a 350-base pair region upstream of the transcription initiation site is constitutively depleted of nucleosomes, regardless of the induction state of the promoter, providing one of the first examples for such a promoter in mammals. The 350-base pair nucleosome-free region can be dissected into modules, identifying transcription factor binding sites and their combinatorial organization during endoplasmic reticulum stress. The interaction of the transcriptional machinery with the GRP78 core promoter is highly organized, represented by six major combinatorial states. We show that the TATA box is frequently occupied in the noninduced state, that stress induction results in sequential loading of the endoplasmic reticulum stress response elements, and that a substantial portion of these elements is no longer occupied following recruitment of factors to the transcription initiation site. Studying the positioning of nucleosomes and transcription factors at the single promoter level provides a powerful tool to gain novel insights into the transcriptional process in eukaryotes.PLoS Genetics 10/2006; 2(9):e160. · 8.52 Impact Factor