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J Biol Chem. 2012 May 11;287(20):16335-45. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.330373. Epub 2012 Mar 19.

Profiles of epigenetic histone post-translational modifications at type 1 diabetes susceptible genes.

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Department of Diabetes and Bioinformatics Core, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, California 91010, USA.


Both genetic and environmental factors are implicated in type 1 diabetes (T1D). Because environmental factors can trigger epigenetic changes, we hypothesized that variations in histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) at the promoter/enhancer regions of T1D susceptible genes may be associated with T1D. We therefore evaluated histone PTM variations at known T1D susceptible genes in blood cells from T1D patients versus healthy nondiabetic controls, and explored their connections to T1D. We used the chromatin immunoprecipitation-linked to microarray approach to profile key histone PTMs, including H3-lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3), H3K27me3, H3K9me3, H3K9 acetylation (H3K9Ac), and H4K16Ac at genes within the T1D susceptible loci in lymphocytes, and H3K4me3, H3K9me2, H3K9Ac, and H4K16Ac at the insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus 1 region in monocytes of T1D patients and healthy controls separately. We screened for potential variations in histone PTMs using computational methods to compare datasets from T1D and controls. Interestingly, we observed marked variations in H3K9Ac levels at the upstream regions of HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 within the insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus 1 locus in T1D monocytes relative to controls. Additional experiments with THP-1 monocytes demonstrated increased expression of HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 in response to interferon-γ and TNF-α treatment that were accompanied by changes in H3K9Ac at the same promoter regions as that seen in the patient monocytes. These results suggest that the H3K9Ac status of HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1, two genes highly associated with T1D, may be relevant to their regulation and transcriptional response toward external stimuli. Thus, the promoter/enhancer architecture and chromatin status of key susceptible loci could be important determinants in their functional association to T1D susceptibility.

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