Histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me) methyltransferases and their cofactors are essential for embryonic development and the establishment of gene expression patterns in a cell-specific and heritable manner. However, the importance of such epigenetic marks in maintaining gene expression in adults and in initiating human disease is unclear. Here, we addressed this question using a mouse model in which we could inducibly ablate PAX interacting (with transcription-activation domain) protein 1 (PTIP), a key component of the H3K4me complex, in cardiac cells. Reducing H3K4me3 marks in differentiated cardiomyocytes was sufficient to alter gene expression profiles. One gene regulated by H3K4me3 was Kv channel-interacting protein 2 (Kcnip2), which regulates a cardiac repolarization current that is downregulated in heart failure and functions in arrhythmogenesis. This regulation led to a decreased sodium current and action potential upstroke velocity and significantly prolonged action potential duration (APD). The prolonged APD augmented intracellular calcium and in vivo systolic heart function. Treatment with isoproterenol and caffeine in this mouse model resulted in the generation of premature ventricular beats, a harbinger of lethal ventricular arrhythmias. These results suggest that the maintenance of H3K4me3 marks is necessary for the stability of a transcriptional program in differentiated cells and point to an essential function for H3K4me3 epigenetic marks in cellular homeostasis.
Adam B. Stein, Thomas A. Jones, Todd J. Herron, Sanjeevkumar R. Patel, Sharlene M. Day, Sami F. Noujaim, Michelle L. Milstein, Matthew Klos, Philip B. Furspan, José Jalife, Gregory R. Dressler