Stress-induced gene expression and behavior are controlled by DNA methylation and methyl donor availability in the dentate gyrus

Saunderson, E. A., Spiers, H., Mifsud, K. R., Gutierrez-Mecinas, M., Trollope, A. F., Shaikh, A., Mill, J. and Reul, J. M.H.M. (2016) Stress-induced gene expression and behavior are controlled by DNA methylation and methyl donor availability in the dentate gyrus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(17), pp. 4830-4835. (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1524857113) (PMID:27078100)

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Abstract

Stressful events evoke long-term changes in behavioral responses; however, the underlying mechanisms in the brain are not well understood. Previous work has shown that epigenetic changes and immediate-early gene (IEG) induction in stress-activated dentate gyrus (DG) granule neurons play a crucial role in these behavioral responses. Here, we show that an acute stressful challenge [i.e., forced swimming (FS)] results in DNA demethylation at specific CpG (5′-cytosine–phosphate–guanine-3′) sites close to the c-Fos (FBJ murine osteosarcoma viral oncogene homolog) transcriptional start site and within the gene promoter region of Egr-1 (early growth response protein 1) specifically in the DG. Administration of the (endogenous) methyl donor S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) did not affect CpG methylation and IEG gene expression at baseline. However, administration of SAM before the FS challenge resulted in an enhanced CpG methylation at the IEG loci and suppression of IEG induction specifically in the DG and an impaired behavioral immobility response 24 h later. The stressor also specifically increased the expression of the de novo DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a [DNA (cytosine-5-)-methyltransferase 3 alpha] in this hippocampus region. Moreover, stress resulted in an increased association of Dnmt3a enzyme with the affected CpG loci within the IEG genes. No effects of SAM were observed on stress-evoked histone modifications, including H3S10p-K14ac (histone H3, phosphorylated serine 10 and acetylated lysine-14), H3K4me3 (histone H3, trimethylated lysine-4), H3K9me3 (histone H3, trimethylated lysine-9), and H3K27me3 (histone H3, trimethylated lysine-27). We conclude that the DNA methylation status of IEGs plays a crucial role in FS-induced IEG induction in DG granule neurons and associated behavioral responses. In addition, the concentration of available methyl donor, possibly in conjunction with Dnmt3a, is critical for the responsiveness of dentate neurons to environmental stimuli in terms of gene expression and behavior.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was supported by grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC; Grants BB/ K007408/1 and BB/G02507X/1), the Medical Research Council (MRC), and the British Pharmacological Society.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gutierrez-Mecinas, Dr Maria
Authors: Saunderson, E. A., Spiers, H., Mifsud, K. R., Gutierrez-Mecinas, M., Trollope, A. F., Shaikh, A., Mill, J., and Reul, J. M.H.M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
ISSN (Online):1091-6490
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 National Academy of Sciences
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(17):4830-4835
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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