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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Dec;299(6):H1968-80. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00644.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 10.

Cardiac myosin heavy chain gene regulation by thyroid hormone involves altered histone modifications.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California, Irvine, California 92697-4560, USA.


The antithetical regulation of cardiac α- and β-myosin heavy chain (MHC) genes by thyroid hormone (T(3)) is not well understood but appears to involve thyroid hormone interaction with its nuclear receptor and MHC promoters as well as cis-acting noncoding regulatory RNA (ncRNA). Both of these phenomena involve epigenetic regulations. This study investigated the extent that altered thyroid state induces histone modifications in the chromatin associated with the cardiac MHC genes. We hypothesized that specific epigenetic events could be identified and linked to cardiac MHC gene switching in response to a hypothyroid or hyperthyroid state. A hypothyroid state was induced in rats by propylthiouracil treatment (PTU), whereas a hyperthyroid (T(3)) was induced by T(3) treatment. The left ventricle was analyzed after 7 days for MHC pre-mRNA expression, and the chromatin was assessed for enrichment in specific histone modifications using chromatin immunoprecipitation quantitative PCR assays. At both the α-MHC promoter and the intergenic region, the enrichment in acetyl histone H3 at K9/14 (H3K9/14ac) and trimethyl histone H3 at K4 (H3K4me3) changed in a similar fashion. They were both decreased with PTU treatment but did not change under T(3), except at a location situated 5' to the antisense intergenic transcription start site. These same marks varied differently on the β-MHC promoter. For example, H3K4me3 enrichment correlated with the β-promoter activity in PTU and T(3) groups, whereas H3K9/14ac was repressed in the T(3) group but did not change under PTU. Histone H3K9me was enriched in chromatin of both the intergenic and α-MHC promoters in the PTU group, whereas histone H4K20me1 was enriched in chromatin of β-MHC promoter in the normal control and T(3) groups. Collectively, these findings provide evidence that specific epigenetic phenomena modulate MHC gene expression in altered thyroid states.

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