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      Association between enhanced type I collagen expression and epigenetic repression of the FLI1 gene in scleroderma fibroblasts

      , ,
      Arthritis & Rheumatism
      Wiley

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          Abstract

          Objective

          Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis; SSc) is an autoimmune disease characterized by vasculopathy and widespread organ fibrosis. Altered fibroblast function, both in vivo and in vitro, is well documented and illustrated by augmented synthesis and deposition of extracellular matrix proteins. We undertook this study to investigate the possibility that epigenetic mechanisms mediate the emergence and persistence of the altered SSc fibroblast phenotype.

          Methods

          The effects of DNA methyltransferase and histone deacetylase inhibitors on collagen expression and the level of epigenetic mediators in fibroblasts were examined. The effects of transient transfection of SSc fibroblasts with FLI1 gene and normal cells with FLI1 antisense construct on collagen expression were determined. The methylation status of the FLI1 promoter was tested in cultured cells and in SSc and normal skin biopsy specimens.

          Results

          Increased levels of epigenetic mediators in SSc fibroblasts were noted. The addition of epigenetic inhibitors to cell cultures normalized collagen expression in SSc fibroblasts. The augmented collagen synthesis by SSc fibroblasts was linked to epigenetic repression of the collagen suppressor gene FLI1. Heavy methylation of the CpG islands in the FLI1 promoter region was demonstrated in SSc fibroblasts and skin biopsy specimens.

          Conclusion

          The results of this study indicate that epigenetic mechanisms may mediate the fibrotic manifestations of SSc. The signal transduction leading to the SSc fibrotic phenotype appears to converge on DNA methylation and histone deacetylation at the FLI1 gene.

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          Most cited references31

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          Epigenetic regulation of gene expression: how the genome integrates intrinsic and environmental signals.

          Cells of a multicellular organism are genetically homogeneous but structurally and functionally heterogeneous owing to the differential expression of genes. Many of these differences in gene expression arise during development and are subsequently retained through mitosis. Stable alterations of this kind are said to be 'epigenetic', because they are heritable in the short term but do not involve mutations of the DNA itself. Research over the past few years has focused on two molecular mechanisms that mediate epigenetic phenomena: DNA methylation and histone modifications. Here, we review advances in the understanding of the mechanism and role of DNA methylation in biological processes. Epigenetic effects by means of DNA methylation have an important role in development but can also arise stochastically as animals age. Identification of proteins that mediate these effects has provided insight into this complex process and diseases that occur when it is perturbed. External influences on epigenetic processes are seen in the effects of diet on long-term diseases such as cancer. Thus, epigenetic mechanisms seem to allow an organism to respond to the environment through changes in gene expression. The extent to which environmental effects can provoke epigenetic responses represents an exciting area of future research.
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            MethPrimer: designing primers for methylation PCRs.

            DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism of gene regulation. Bisulfite- conversion-based PCR methods, such as bisulfite sequencing PCR (BSP) and methylation specific PCR (MSP), remain the most commonly used techniques for methylation mapping. Existing primer design programs developed for standard PCR cannot handle primer design for bisulfite-conversion-based PCRs due to changes in DNA sequence context caused by bisulfite treatment and many special constraints both on the primers and the region to be amplified for such experiments. Therefore, the present study was designed to develop a program for such applications. MethPrimer, based on Primer 3, is a program for designing PCR primers for methylation mapping. It first takes a DNA sequence as its input and searches the sequence for potential CpG islands. Primers are then picked around the predicted CpG islands or around regions specified by users. MethPrimer can design primers for BSP and MSP. Results of primer selection are delivered through a web browser in text and in graphic view.
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              Gene silencing in cancer in association with promoter hypermethylation.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Arthritis & Rheumatism
                Arthritis & Rheumatism
                Wiley
                0004-3591
                1529-0131
                July 2006
                June 27 2006
                July 2006
                : 54
                : 7
                : 2271-2279
                Article
                10.1002/art.21948
                16802366
                81fdc647-8f00-434d-be65-c9aad6be4064
                © 2006

                http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/termsAndConditions#vor

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