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Toxicology. 2011 Dec 18;290(2-3):327-33. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2011.10.011. Epub 2011 Oct 25.

MeCP2 controls the expression of RASAL1 in the hepatic fibrosis in rats.

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School of pharmacy, Anhui key laboratory of bioactivity of natural products, Anhui Medical University, Hefei 230032, China.


Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) activation is an essential event during liver fibrogenesis. A major pathway is the transition of HSCs into hepatic myofibroblasts. The methyl-CpG-binding protein MeCP2 which promotes repressed chromatin structure is selectively detected in myofibroblasts of diseased liver. Overexpression of this protein results in an increase of global methylation levels. Treatment of HSCs with DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-azadC) blocks the cell proliferation. 5-azadC also prevents loss of Ras GTPase activating-like protein 1 (RASAL1) expression that occurs during HSCs proliferation. To further explore the underlying molecular mechanisms, we hypothesized that this perpetuation of fibrogenesis was caused by DNA methylation. Results demonstrated that hypermethylation of RASAL1 is associated with the perpetuation of fibroblast activation and fibrogenesis in the liver. knockdown of MeCP2 using siRNA technique increased RASAL1 in both mRNA and protein level in myofibroblasts. These studies demonstrated that MeCP2 and DNA methylation may provide molecular mechanisms for perpetuated fibroblast activation and fibrogenesis in the liver.

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