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      Chronic Ethanol Exposure Alters DNA Methylation in Neural Stem Cells: Role of Mouse Strain and Sex

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      Molecular Neurobiology

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Lineage-specific polycomb targets and de novo DNA methylation define restriction and potential of neuronal progenitors.

          Cellular differentiation entails loss of pluripotency and gain of lineage- and cell-type-specific characteristics. Using a murine system that progresses from stem cells to lineage-committed progenitors to terminally differentiated neurons, we analyzed DNA methylation and Polycomb-mediated histone H3 methylation (H3K27me3). We show that several hundred promoters, including pluripotency and germline-specific genes, become DNA methylated in lineage-committed progenitor cells, suggesting that DNA methylation may already repress pluripotency in progenitor cells. Conversely, we detect loss and acquisition of H3K27me3 at additional targets in both progenitor and terminal states. Surprisingly, many neuron-specific genes that become activated upon terminal differentiation are Polycomb targets only in progenitor cells. Moreover, promoters marked by H3K27me3 in stem cells frequently become DNA methylated during differentiation, suggesting context-dependent crosstalk between Polycomb and DNA methylation. These data suggest a model how de novo DNA methylation and dynamic switches in Polycomb targets restrict pluripotency and define the developmental potential of progenitor cells.
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            DNA methylation is a critical cell-intrinsic determinant of astrocyte differentiation in the fetal brain.

            Astrocyte differentiation, which occurs late in brain development, is largely dependent on the activation of a transcription factor, STAT3. We show that astrocytes, as judged by glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression, never emerge from neuroepithelial cells on embryonic day (E) 11.5 even when STAT3 is activated, in contrast to E14.5 neuroepithelial cells. A CpG dinucleotide within a STAT3 binding element in the GFAP promoter is highly methylated in E11.5 neuroepithelial cells, but is demethylated in cells responsive to the STAT3 activation signal to express GFAP. This CpG methylation leads to inaccessibility of STAT3 to the binding element. We suggest that methylation of a cell type-specific gene promoter is a pivotal event in regulating lineage specification in the developing brain.
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              The epigenetics of sex differences in the brain.

              Epigenetic changes in the nervous system are emerging as a critical component of enduring effects induced by early life experience, hormonal exposure, trauma and injury, or learning and memory. Sex differences in the brain are largely determined by steroid hormone exposure during a perinatal sensitive period that alters subsequent hormonal and nonhormonal responses throughout the lifespan. Steroid receptors are members of a nuclear receptor transcription factor superfamily and recruit multiple proteins that possess enzymatic activity relevant to epigenetic changes such as acetylation and methylation. Thus steroid hormones are uniquely poised to exert epigenetic effects on the developing nervous system to dictate adult sex differences in brain and behavior. Sex differences in the methylation pattern in the promoter of estrogen and progesterone receptor genes are evident in newborns and persist in adults but with a different pattern. Changes in response to injury and in methyl-binding proteins and steroid receptor coregulatory proteins are also reported. Many steroid-induced epigenetic changes are opportunistic and restricted to a single lifespan, but new evidence suggests endocrine-disrupting compounds can exert multigenerational effects. Similarly, maternal diet also induces transgenerational effects, but the impact is sex specific. The study of epigenetics of sex differences is in its earliest stages, with needed advances in understanding of the hormonal regulation of enzymes controlling acetylation and methylation, coregulatory proteins, transient versus stable DNA methylation patterns, and sex differences across the epigenome to fully understand sex differences in brain and behavior.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Molecular Neurobiology
                Mol Neurobiol
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0893-7648
                1559-1182
                February 2020
                August 14 2019
                February 2020
                : 57
                : 2
                : 650-667
                Article
                10.1007/s12035-019-01728-0
                © 2020

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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