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Exp Eye Res. 2008 Apr;86(4):586-600. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2008.01.003. Epub 2008 Jan 12.

Epigenetic silencing of maspin expression occurs early in the conversion of keratocytes to fibroblasts.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.

Abstract

Maspin, a 42 kDa non-classical serpin (serine protease inhibitor) that controls cell migration and invasion, is mainly expressed by epithelial-derived cells but is also expressed in corneal stromal keratocytes. Upon culture of stromal keratocytes in the presence of FBS, maspin is down-regulated to nearly undetectable levels by passage two. DNA methylation is one of several processes that controls gene expression during cell differentiation, development, genetic imprinting, and carcinogenesis but has not been studied in corneal stromal cells. The purpose of this study was to determine whether DNA methylation of the maspin promoter and histone H3 dimethylation is involved in the mechanism of down-regulation of maspin synthesis in human corneal stromal fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. Human donor corneal stroma cells were immediately placed into serum-free defined medium or cultured in the presence of FBS and passed into serum-free medium or medium containing FBS or FGF-2 to induce the fibroblast phenotype or TGF-beta1 for the myofibroblast phenotype. These cell types are found in wounded corneas. The cells were used to prepare RNA for semi-quantitative or quantitative RT-PCR or to extract protein for Western analysis. In addition, P4 FBS cultured fibroblasts were treated with the DNA demethylating agent, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC), and the histone deacetylase inhibitor, trichostatin A (TSA). Cells with and without treatment were harvested and assayed for DNA methylation using sodium bisulfite sequencing. The methylation state of histone H3 associated with the maspin gene in the P4 fibroblast cells was determined using a ChIP assay. Freshly harvested corneal stromal cells expressed maspin but upon phenotypic differentiation, maspin mRNA and protein were dramatically down-regulated. Sodium bisulfite sequencing revealed that the maspin promoter in the freshly isolated stromal keratocytes was hypomethylated while both the P0 stromal cells and the P1 cells cultured in the presence of serum-free defined medium, FGF-2 and TGF-beta1 were hypermethylated. Down-regulation of maspin synthesis was also associated with histone H3 dimethylation at lysine 9. Both maspin mRNA and protein were re-expressed at low levels with 5-Aza-dC but not TSA treatment. Addition of TSA to 5-Aza-dC treated cells did not increase maspin expression. Treatment with 5-Aza-dC did not significantly alter demethylation of the maspin promoter but did demethylate histone H3. These results show maspin promoter hypermethylation and histone methylation occur with down-regulation of maspin synthesis in corneal stromal cells and suggest regulation of genes upon conversion of keratocytes to wound healing fibroblasts can involve promoter and histone methylation.

PMID:
18291368
PMCID:
PMC2374753
DOI:
10.1016/j.exer.2008.01.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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