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Free Radic Biol Med. 2019 Feb 18;134:630-643. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2019.02.015. [Epub ahead of print]

An augmentation in histone dimethylation at lysine nine residues elicits vision impairment following traumatic brain injury.

Author information

1
Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, 200 Lothrop Street, Scaife Hall, Pittsburgh, 15213, USA.
2
Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, 200 Lothrop Street, Scaife Hall, Pittsburgh, 15213, USA. Electronic address: senn@pitt.edu.

Abstract

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affects more than 1.7 million Americans each year and about 30% of TBI-patients having visual impairments. The loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGC) in the retina and axonal degeneration in the optic nerve have been attributed to vision impairment following TBI; however, the molecular mechanism has not been elucidated. Here we have shown that an increase in histone di-methylation at lysine 9 residue (H3K9Me2), synthesized by the catalytic activity of a histone methyltransferase, G9a is responsible for RGC loss and axonal degeneration in the optic nerve following TBI. To elucidate the molecular mechanism, we found that an increase in H3K9Me2 results in the induction of oxidative stress both in the RGC and optic nerve by decreasing the mRNA level of antioxidants such as Superoxide dismutase (sod) and catalase through impairing the transcriptional activity of Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) via direct interaction. The induction of oxidative stress is associated with death in RGC and oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs). The death in OPCs is correlated with a reduction in myelination, and the expression of myelin binding protein (MBP) in association with degeneration of neurofilaments in the optic nerve. This event allied to an impairment of the retrograde transport of axons and loss of nerve fiber layer in the optic nerve following TBI. An administration of G9a inhibitor, UNC0638 attenuates the induction of H3K9Me2 both in RGC and optic nerve and subsequently activates Nrf2 to reduce oxidative stress. This event was concomitant with the rescue in the loss of retinal thickness, attenuation in optic nerve degeneration and improvement in the retrograde transport of axons following TBI.

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