A research team at the University of California, San Diego – led by Gary S. Firestein, professor in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at UC San Diego School of Medicine – investigated a mechanism usually implicated in cancer and in fetal development, called DNA methylation, in the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They found that epigenetic changes due to methylation play a key role in altering genes that could potentially contribute to inflammation and joint damage. Their study is currently published in the online edition of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
In this artist's rendering, a DNA molecule is methylated on both strands at the center cytosine. DNA methylation plays an important role in epigenetic gene regulation, and is involved in both normal development and in cancer. Credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine
"Genomics has rapidly advanced our understanding of susceptibility and severity of rheumatoid arthritis," said Firestein. "While many genetic associations have been described in this disease, we also know that if one identical twin develops RA that the other twin only has a 12 to 15 percent chance of also getting the disease. This suggests that other factors are at play – epigenetic influences."
DNA methylation is one example of epigenetic change, in which a strand of DNA is modified after it is duplicated by adding a methyl to any cytosine molecule (C) – one of the 4 main bases of DNA. This is one of the methods used to regulate gene expression, and is often abnormal in cancers and plays a role in organ development.
While DNA methylation of individual genes has been explored in autoimmune diseases, this study represents a genome-wide evaluation of the process in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS), isolated from the site of the disease in RA. FLS are cells that interact with the immune cells in RA, an inflammatory disease in the joints that damages cartilage, bone and soft tissues of the joint.
In this study, scientists isolated and evaluated genomic DNA from 28 cell lines. They looked at DNA methylation patterns in RA FLS and compared them with FLS derived from normal individuals or patients with non-inflammatory joint disease. The data showed that the FLS in RA display a DNA methylome signature that distinguishes them from osteoarthritis and normal FLS. These FLS possess differentially methylated (DM) genes that are critical to cell trafficking, inflammation and cell–extracellular matrix interactions.
"We found that hypomethylation of individual genes was associated with increased gene expression and occurred in multiple pathways critical to inflammatory responses," said Firestein, adding that this led to their conclusion: Differentially methylated genes can alter FLS gene expression and contribute to the pathogenesis of RA.
Additional contributors include Kazuhisa Nakano and David L. Boyle, UCSD Department of Medicine; and John W. Whitaker and Wei Wang, UCSD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
This project was supported by grant number UL1RR031980 from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Science.
NexDx, Inc. licensed the technology from UC San Diego and provided informatics support for this study. Gary S. Firestein and Wei Wang are on the Scientific Advisory Board of NexDx, Inc.
Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences