Methylation of Septin9 mediated by DNMT3a enhances hepatic stellate cells activation and liver fibrogenesis

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Liver fibrosis, resulting from chronic and persistent injury to the liver, is a worldwide health problem. Advanced liver fibrosis results in cirrhosis, liver failure and even hepatocellular cancer (HCC), often eventually requiring liver transplantation, poses a huge health burden on the global community. However, the specific pathogenesis of liver fibrosis remains not fully understood. Numerous basic and clinical studies have provided evidence that epigenetic modifications, especially DNA methylation, might contribute to the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), the pivotal cell type responsible for the fibrous scar in liver. Here, reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) and bisulfite pyrosequencing PCR (BSP) analysis identified hypermethylation status of Septin9 (Sept9) gene in liver fibrogenesis. Sept9 protein was dramatically decreased in livers of CCl4-treated mice and immortalized HSC-T6 cells exposed to TGF-β1. Nevertheless, the suppression of Sept9 could be blocked by DNMT3a-siRNA and DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-azadC). Overexpressed Sept9 attenuated TGF-β1-induced expression of myofibroblast markers α-SMA and Col1a1, accompanied by up-regulation of cell apoptosis-related proteins. Conversely, RNAi-mediated silencing of Sept9 enhanced accumulation of extracellular matrix. These observations suggested that Sept9 contributed to alleviate liver fibrosis might partially through promoting activated HSCs apoptosis and this anti-fibrogenesis effect might be blocked by DNMT-3a mediated methylation of Sept9. Therefore, pharmacological agents that inhibit Sept9 methylation and increase its expression could be considered as valuable treatments for liver fibrosis.




Wu, Y., Bu, F., Yu, H., Li, W., Huang, C., Meng, X., … Li, J. (2017). Methylation of Septin9 mediated by DNMT3a enhances hepatic stellate cells activation and liver fibrogenesis. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 315, 35–49.

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