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Mol Cell Biochem. 2011 Sep;355(1-2):157-65. doi: 10.1007/s11010-011-0849-7. Epub 2011 May 4.

Effect of trichostatin A and 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine on transgene reactivation and epigenetic modification in transgenic pig fibroblast cells.

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  • 1College of Life Science, Northeast Agricultural University of China, No. 59 Mucai Street, Harbin, Heilongjiang 150030, China.


Transgenic technology has greatly facilitated our understanding of gene function, producing pharmaceutical proteins, and generating models for the study of human diseases. However, epigenetic silencing is still the most major limitation. In this study, we employed DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC) and histone deacetylase inhibitor Trichostatin A (TSA) to study the reactivation of silenced green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgene driven by the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter in three fibroblast cell lines from transgenic pigs (tPFs). Analysis showed that porcine fetal fibroblasts (PFF) treated with 0.5 μM 5-Aza-dC for 48 h or 0.25 μM TSA for 24 h had no significantly relevant deaths and no considerably morphological changes. We observed that transgene underwent progressive silencing in a long time course of culture in vitro, and this was correlated with DNA hypermethylation and hypoacetylation of specific histone H3 lysines in the CMV promoter region. Moreover, silenced transgene could be reactivated with 5-Aza-dC or/and TSA treatment by reversing the CMV promoter status of histone hypoacetylation and DNA hypermethylation, and the combination treatment with both agents resulted in a synergistic activation of the transgene, suggesting a cross talk between histone acetylation and DNA methylation. Furthermore, the combination treatment once per 10 days could maintain transgene expression in a high level for more than 60 days by sustaining DNA hypomethylation and histone hyperacetylation. In conclusion, our results suggest that methyltransferase inhibitor 5-Aza-dC and histone deacetylase inhibitor TSA can reactivate silenced transgene and maintain transgene expression by induction of DNA hypomethylation and histone hyperacetylation in the promoter region.

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