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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 May;130(1-2):96-104. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2012.01.009. Epub 2012 Feb 10.

A differentially methylated single CpG-site is correlated with estrogen receptor alpha transcription.

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Physiology Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, 85354 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany.


DNA methylation of the promoter region of estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) is recognized as an epigenetic mechanism that regulates its mRNA abundance. We questioned whether tissues in male growing piglets were influenced in terms of DNA methylation by the developmentally occurring distinct plasma estradiol-17β (E2) concentrations. Additionally, we aimed at broadening the currently limited understanding of the epigenetic regulation of ESR1 in physiological settings. Three distinct genetic regions of ESR1 were analyzed using a combination of methylation-sensitive high resolution melting (MS-HRM) and pyrosequencing. Unexpectedly, major E2 concentration differences were only marginally associated with minor variations in DNA methylation and mRNA abundance. However, by analyzing two tissues showing the greatest differences in transcript abundance, we were able to find one single CpG site in the +1kb intragenic region of ESR1 strikingly differently methylated between heart vs. epididymis. Interestingly, this single CpG-site was identified as a putative binding site for the transcriptional repressor TG-interacting factor 1 (TGIF) which can recruit histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) leading to chromatin condensation. Indeed, chromatin immunoprecipitation confirmed a reduced histone H3 presence at the specific ESR1 location in case of higher DNA methylation. We therefore hypothesize that ESR1 expression may be manifested by a single-CpG-site based methylation difference impairing transcription factor binding.

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