The development of atherosclerotic plaques typically occurs in regions of arteries that have disturbed blood flow. While blood flow disturbances are known to alter endothelial gene expression and function, it is not clear how altered blood flow induces these changes. In this episode, Hanjoong Jo presents evidence that blood flow disturbances alter genome-wide methylation patterns in endothelial cells through induction of the DNA methyltransferase DNMT. Long-term epigenetic changes induced within the arterial endothelium may lead to development of atherosclerosis, and genes that are altered in response to disturbed flow represent potential therapeutic targets for limiting plaque formation.
In atherosclerosis, plaques preferentially develop in arterial regions of disturbed blood flow (d-flow), which alters endothelial gene expression and function. Here, we determined that d-flow regulates genome-wide DNA methylation patterns in a DNA methyltransferase–dependent (DNMT-dependent) manner. Induction of d-flow by partial carotid ligation surgery in a murine model induced DNMT1 in arterial endothelium. In cultured endothelial cells, DNMT1 was enhanced by oscillatory shear stress (OS), and reduction of DNMT with either the inhibitor 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5Aza) or siRNA markedly reduced OS-induced endothelial inflammation. Moreover, administration of 5Aza reduced lesion formation in 2 mouse models of atherosclerosis. Using both reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) and microarray, we determined that d-flow in the carotid artery resulted in hypermethylation within the promoters of 11 mechanosensitive genes and that 5Aza treatment restored normal methylation patterns. Of the identified genes,
Jessilyn Dunn, Haiwei Qiu, Soyeon Kim, Daudi Jjingo, Ryan Hoffman, Chan Woo Kim, Inhwan Jang, Dong Ju Son, Daniel Kim, Chenyi Pan, Yuhong Fan, I. King Jordan, Hanjoong Jo