Targeting the histone methyltransferase G9a activates imprinted genes and improves survival of a mouse model of Prader-Willi syndrome.
ABSTRACT: Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is an imprinting disorder caused by a deficiency of paternally expressed gene(s) in the 15q11-q13 chromosomal region. The regulation of imprinted gene expression in this region is coordinated by an imprinting center (PWS-IC). In individuals with PWS, genes responsible for PWS on the maternal chromosome are present, but repressed epigenetically, which provides an opportunity for the use of epigenetic therapy to restore expression from the maternal copies of PWS-associated genes. Through a high-content screen (HCS) of >9,000 small molecules, we discovered that UNC0638 and UNC0642-two selective inhibitors of euchromatic histone lysine N-methyltransferase-2 (EHMT2, also known as G9a)-activated the maternal (m) copy of candidate genes underlying PWS, including the SnoRNA cluster SNORD116, in cells from humans with PWS and also from a mouse model of PWS carrying a paternal (p) deletion from small nuclear ribonucleoprotein N (Snrpn (S)) to ubiquitin protein ligase E3A (Ube3a (U)) (mouse model referred to hereafter as m+/p?S-U). Both UNC0642 and UNC0638 caused a selective reduction of the dimethylation of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me2) at PWS-IC, without changing DNA methylation, when analyzed by bisulfite genomic sequencing. This indicates that histone modification is essential for the imprinting of candidate genes underlying PWS. UNC0642 displayed therapeutic effects in the PWS mouse model by improving the survival and the growth of m+/p?S-U newborn pups. This study provides the first proof of principle for an epigenetics-based therapy for PWS.
Project description:Genomic imprinting is a phenomenon that some genes are expressed differentially according to the parent of origin. Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) are neurobehavioral disorders caused by deficiency of imprinted gene expression from paternal and maternal chromosome 15q11-q13, respectively. Imprinted genes at the PWS/AS domain are regulated through a bipartite imprinting center, the PWS-IC and AS-IC. The PWS-IC activates paternal-specific gene expression and is responsible for the paternal imprint, whereas the AS-IC functions in the maternal imprint by allele-specific repression of the PWS-IC to prevent the paternal imprinting program. Although mouse chromosome 7C has a conserved PWS/AS imprinted domain, the mouse equivalent of the human AS-IC element has not yet been identified. Here, we suggest another dimension that the PWS-IC also functions in maternal imprinting by negatively regulating the paternally expressed imprinted genes in mice, in contrast to its known function as a positive regulator for paternal-specific gene expression. Using a mouse model carrying a 4.8-kb deletion at the PWS-IC, we demonstrated that maternal transmission of the PWS-IC deletion resulted in a maternal imprinting defect with activation of the paternally expressed imprinted genes and decreased expression of the maternally expressed imprinted gene on the maternal chromosome, accompanied by alteration of the maternal epigenotype toward a paternal state spread over the PWS/AS domain. The functional significance of this acquired paternal pattern of gene expression was demonstrated by the ability to complement PWS phenotypes by maternal inheritance of the PWS-IC deletion, which is in stark contrast to paternal inheritance of the PWS-IC deletion that resulted in the PWS phenotypes. Importantly, low levels of expression of the paternally expressed imprinted genes are sufficient to rescue postnatal lethality and growth retardation in two PWS mouse models. These findings open the opportunity for a novel approach to the treatment of PWS.
Project description:Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), a disorder of genomic imprinting, is characterized by neonatal hypotonia, hypogonadism, small hands and feet, hyperphagia and obesity in adulthood. PWS results from the loss of paternal copies of the cluster of SNORD116 C/D box snoRNAs and their host transcript, 116HG, on human chromosome 15q11-q13. We have investigated the mechanism of repression of the maternal SNORD116 cluster and 116HG. Here, we report that the zinc-finger protein ZNF274, in association with the histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methyltransferase SETDB1, is part of a complex that binds to the silent maternal but not the active paternal alleles. Knockdown of SETDB1 in PWS-specific induced pluripotent cells (iPSCs) causes a decrease in the accumulation of H3K9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) at 116HG and corresponding accumulation of the active chromatin mark histone H3 lysine 4 dimethylation (H3K4me2). We also show that upon knockdown of SETDB1 in PWS-specific iPSCs, expression of maternally silenced 116HG RNA is partially restored. SETDB1 knockdown in PWS iPSCs also disrupts DNA methylation at the PWS-IC where a decrease in 5-methylcytosine is observed in association with a concomitant increase in 5-hydroxymethylcytosine. This observation suggests that the ZNF274/SETDB1 complex bound to the SNORD116 cluster may protect the PWS-IC from DNA demethylation during early development. Our findings reveal novel epigenetic mechanisms that function to repress the maternal 15q11-q13 region.
Project description:The Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS)/Angelman syndrome (AS) region, on human chromosome 15q11-q13, exemplifies coordinate control of imprinted gene expression over a large chromosomal domain. Establishment of the paternal state of the region requires the PWS imprinting center (PWS-IC); establishment of the maternal state requires the AS-IC. Cytosine methylation of the PWS-IC, which occurs during oogenesis in mice, occurs only after fertilization in humans, so this modification cannot be the gametic imprint for the PWS/AS region in humans. Here, we demonstrate that the PWS-IC shows parent-specific complementary patterns of H3 lysine 9 (Lys9) and H3 lysine 4 (Lys4) methylation. H3 Lys9 is methylated on the maternal copy of the PWS-IC, and H3 Lys4 is methylated on the paternal copy. We suggest that H3 Lys9 methylation is a candidate maternal gametic imprint for this region, and we show how changes in chromatin packaging during the life cycle of mammals provide a means of erasing such an imprint in the male germline.
Project description:The Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS [MIM 17620]) and Angelman syndrome (AS [MIM 105830]) locus is controlled by a bipartite imprinting center (IC) consisting of the PWS-IC and the AS-IC. The most widely accepted model of IC function proposes that the PWS-IC activates gene expression from the paternal allele, while the AS-IC acts to epigenetically inactivate the PWS-IC on the maternal allele, thus silencing the paternally expressed genes. Gene order and imprinting patterns at the PWS/AS locus are well conserved from human to mouse; however, a murine AS-IC has yet to be identified. We investigated a potential regulatory role for transcription from the Snrpn alternative upstream exons in silencing the maternal allele using a murine transgene containing Snrpn and three upstream exons. This transgene displayed appropriate imprinted expression and epigenetic marks, demonstrating the presence of a functional AS-IC. Transcription of the upstream exons from the endogenous locus correlates with imprint establishment in oocytes, and this upstream exon expression pattern was conserved on the transgene. A transgene bearing targeted deletions of each of the three upstream exons exhibited loss of imprinting upon maternal transmission. These results support a model in which transcription from the Snrpn upstream exons directs the maternal imprint at the PWS-IC.
Project description:Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) are neurogenetic disorders that are caused by the loss of function of imprinted genes in 15q11-q13. In a small group of patients, the disease is due to aberrant imprinting and gene silencing. Here, we describe the molecular analysis of 51 patients with PWS and 85 patients with AS who have such a defect. Seven patients with PWS (14%) and eight patients with AS (9%) were found to have an imprinting center (IC) deletion. Sequence analysis of 32 patients with PWS and no IC deletion and 66 patients with AS and no IC deletion did not reveal any point mutation in the critical IC elements. The presence of a faint methylated band in 27% of patients with AS and no IC deletion suggests that these patients are mosaic for an imprinting defect that occurred after fertilization. In patients with AS, the imprinting defect occurred on the chromosome that was inherited from either the maternal grandfather or grandmother; however, in all informative patients with PWS and no IC deletion, the imprinting defect occurred on the chromosome inherited from the paternal grandmother. These data suggest that this imprinting defect results from a failure to erase the maternal imprint during spermatogenesis.
Project description:Angelman syndrome, Prader-Will syndrome and Dup15q syndrome map to a cluster of imprinted genes located at 15q11-q13. Imprinting at this domain is regulated by an imprinting control region consisting of two distinct elements, the Angelman syndrome imprinting center (AS-IC) and the Prader-Willi syndrome imprinting center (PWS-IC). Individuals inheriting deletions of the AS-IC exhibit reduced expression of the maternally expressed UBE3A gene and biallelic expression of paternal-only genes. We have previously demonstrated that AS-IC activity partly consists of providing transcription across the PWS-IC in oocytes, and that these transcripts are necessary for maternal imprinting of Snrpn. Here we report a novel mouse mutation that truncates transcripts prior to transiting the PWS-IC and results in a domain-wide imprinting defect. These results confirm a transcription-based model for imprint setting at this domain. The imprinting defect can be preempted by removal of the transcriptional block in oocytes, but not by its removal in early embryos. Imprinting defect mice exhibit several traits often found in individuals with Angelman syndrome imprinting defects.
Project description:The human chr15q11-q13 imprinted cluster is linked to several disorders, including Prader-Willi (PWS) and Angelman (AS) syndromes. Recently, disease modeling approaches based on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been used to study these syndromes. A concern regarding the use of these cells for imprinted disease modeling is the numerous imprinting defects found in many iPSCs. Here, by reprogramming skin fibroblasts from a control and AS individuals, we generated several iPSC lines and addressed the stability of imprinting status across the PWS/AS domain. We focused on three important regulatory DNA elements which are all differentially methylated regions (DMRs), methylated on the maternal allele: the PWS imprinting center (PWS-IC), which is a germline DMR and the somatic NDN and MKRN3 DMRs, hierarchically controlled by PWS-IC. Normal PWS-IC methylation pattern was maintained in most iPSC lines; however, loss of maternal methylation in one out of five control iPSC lines resulted in a monoallelic to biallelic switch for many imprinted genes in this domain. Surprisingly, MKRN3 DMR was found aberrantly hypermethylated in all control and AS iPSCs, regardless of the methylation status of the PWS-IC master regulator. This suggests a loss of hierarchical control of imprinting at PWS/AS region. We confirmed these results in established iPSC lines derived using different reprogramming procedures. Overall, we show that hierarchy of imprinting control in donor cells might not apply to iPSCs, accounting for their spectrum of imprinting alterations. Such differences in imprinting regulation should be taken into consideration for the use of iPSCs in disease modeling.
Project description:The Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and the Angelman syndrome (AS) are caused by the loss of function of imprinted genes in proximal 15q. In approximately 2%-4% of patients, this loss of function is due to an imprinting defect. In some cases, the imprinting defect is the result of a parental imprint-switch failure caused by a microdeletion of the imprinting center (IC). Here we describe the molecular analysis of 13 PWS patients and 17 AS patients who have an imprinting defect but no IC deletion. Heteroduplex and partial sequence analysis did not reveal any point mutations of the known IC elements, either. Interestingly, all of these patients represent sporadic cases, and some share the paternal (PWS) or the maternal (AS) 15q11-q13 haplotype with an unaffected sib. In each of five PWS patients informative for the grandparental origin of the incorrectly imprinted chromosome region and four cases described elsewhere, the maternally imprinted paternal chromosome region was inherited from the paternal grandmother. This suggests that the grandmaternal imprint was not erased in the father's germ line. In seven informative AS patients reported here and in three previously reported patients, the paternally imprinted maternal chromosome region was inherited from either the maternal grandfather or the maternal grandmother. The latter finding is not compatible with an imprint-switch failure, but it suggests that a paternal imprint developed either in the maternal germ line or postzygotically. We conclude (1) that the incorrect imprint in non-IC-deletion cases is the result of a spontaneous prezygotic or postzygotic error, (2) that these cases have a low recurrence risk, and (3) that the paternal imprint may be the default imprint.
Project description:Reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) was used to analyze DNA methylation patterns across the mouse brain genome in mice carrying a deletion of the Prader-Willi syndrome imprinting center (PWS-IC) on either the maternally- or paternally-inherited chromosome. Within the ~3.7 Mb imprinted Angelman/Prader-Willi syndrome (AS/PWS) domain, 254 CpG sites were interrogated for changes in methylation due to PWS-IC deletion. Paternally-inherited deletion of the PWS-IC increased methylation levels ~2-fold at each CpG site (compared to wild-type controls) at differentially methylated regions (DMRs) associated with 5' CpG island promoters of paternally-expressed genes; these methylation changes extended, to a variable degree, into the adjacent CpG island shores. Maternal PWS-IC deletion yielded little or no changes in methylation at these DMRs, and methylation of CpG sites outside of promoter DMRs also was unchanged upon maternal or paternal PWS-IC deletion. Using stringent ascertainment criteria, ~750,000 additional CpG sites were also interrogated across the entire mouse genome. This analysis identified 26 loci outside of the imprinted AS/PWS domain showing altered DNA methylation levels of ?25% upon PWS-IC deletion. Curiously, altered methylation at 9 of these loci was a consequence of maternal PWS-IC deletion (maternal PWS-IC deletion by itself is not known to be associated with a phenotype in either humans or mice), and 10 of these loci exhibited the same changes in methylation irrespective of the parental origin of the PWS-IC deletion. These results suggest that the PWS-IC may affect DNA methylation at these loci by directly interacting with them, or may affect methylation at these loci through indirect downstream effects due to PWS-IC deletion. They further suggest the PWS-IC may have a previously uncharacterized function outside of the imprinted AS/PWS domain.
Project description:The Prader-Willi syndrome/Angelman syndrome (PWS/AS) imprinted domain is regulated by a bipartite imprinting control center (IC) composed of a sequence around the SNRPN promoter (PWS-IC) and a 880-bp sequence located 35 kb upstream (AS-IC). The AS-IC imprint is established during gametogenesis and confers repression upon PWS-IC on the maternal allele. Mutation at PWS-IC on the paternal allele leads to gene silencing across the entire PWS/AS domain. This silencing implies that PWS-IC functions on the paternal allele as a bidirectional activator. Here we examine the mechanism by which PWS-IC activates the paternally expressed genes (PEGs) using transgenes that include the PWS-IC sequence in the presence or absence of AS-IC and NDN, an upstream PEG, as an experimental model. We demonstrate that PWS-IC is in fact an activator of NDN. This activation requires an unmethylated PWS-IC in the gametes and during early embryogenesis. PWS-IC is dispensable later in development. Interestingly, a similar activation of a nonimprinted gene (APOA1) was observed, implying that PWS-IC is a universal activator. To decipher the mechanism by which PWS-IC confers activation of remote genes, we performed methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) array analysis on lymphoblast cell lines that revealed dispersed, rather than continued differential methylation. However, chromatin conformation capture (3c) experiments revealed a physical interaction between PWS-IC and the PEGs, suggesting that activation of PEGs may require their proximity to PWS-IC.