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: It is well established that cancer-associated epigenetic repression occurs concomitant with CpG island hypermethylation and loss of nucleosomes at promoters, but the role of nucleosome occupancy and epigenetic reprogramming at distal regulatory elements in cancer is still poorly understood. Here, we evaluate the scope of global epigenetic alterations at enhancers and insulator elements in prostate and breast cancer cells using simultaneous genome-wide mapping of DNA methylation and nucleosome occupancy (NOMe-seq). We find that the genomic location of nucleosome-depleted regions (NDRs) is mostly cell type specific and preferentially found at enhancers in normal cells. In cancer cells, however, we observe a global reconfiguration of NDRs at distal regulatory elements coupled with a substantial reorganization of the cancer methylome. Aberrant acquisition of nucleosomes at enhancer-associated NDRs is associated with hypermethylation and epigenetic silencing marks, and conversely, loss of nucleosomes with demethylation and epigenetic activation. Remarkably, we show that nucleosomes remain strongly organized and phased at many facultative distal regulatory elements, even in the absence of a NDR as an anchor. Finally, we find that key transcription factor (TF) binding sites also show extensive peripheral nucleosome phasing, suggesting the potential for TFs to organize NDRs genome-wide and contribute to deregulation of cancer epigenomes. Together, our findings suggest that "decommissioning" of NDRs and TFs at distal regulatory elements in cancer cells is accompanied by DNA hypermethylation susceptibility of enhancers and insulator elements, which in turn may contribute to an altered genome-wide architecture and epigenetic deregulation in malignancy.Genome Research 09/2014; 24(9):1421-32. DOI:10.1101/gr.163485 · 13.85 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Chromatin remodeler complexes exhibit the ability to alter nucleosome composition and positions, with seemingly divergent roles in the regulation of chromatin architecture and gene expression. The outcome is directed by subunit variation and interactions with accessory factors. Recent studies have revealed that subunits of chromatin remodelers display an unexpectedly high mutation rate and/or are inactivated in a number of cancers. Consequently, a repertoire of epigenetic processes are likely to be affected, including interactions with histone modifying factors, as well as the ability to precisely modulate nucleosome positions, DNA methylation patterns and potentially, higher-order genome structure. However, the true significance of chromatin remodeler genetic aberrations in promoting a cascade of epigenetic changes, particularly during initiation and progression of cancer, remains largely unknown.Epigenomics 10/2014; 6(4):397-414. DOI:10.2217/epi.14.37 · 5.22 Impact Factor