Extracellular matrix changes are often crucial inciting events for fibroproliferative disease. Epigenetic changes, specifically DNA methylation, are critical factors underlying differentiated phenotypes. We examined the dependency of matrix-induced fibroproliferation and SMC phenotype on DNA methyltransferases. The cooperativity of matrix with growth factors, cell density and hypoxia was also examined. Primary rat visceral SMC of early passage (0-2) were plated on native collagen or damaged/heat-denatured collagen. Hypoxia was induced with 3% O2 (balanced 5% CO2 and 95% N2) over 48 hours. Inhibitors were applied 2-3 hours after cells were plated on matrix, or immediately before hypoxia. Cells were fixed and stained for DNMT3A and smooth muscle actin (SMA) or smooth muscle myosin heavy chain. Illumina 450 K array of CpG sites was performed on bisulfite-converted DNA from smooth muscle cells on damaged matrix vs native collagen. Matrix exquisitely regulates DNMT3A localization and expression, and influences differentiation in SMCs exposed to denatured matrix +/- hypoxia. Analysis of DNA methylation signatures showed that Matrix caused significant DNA methylation alterations in a discrete number of CpG sites proximal to genes related to SMC differentiation. Matrix has a profound effect on the regulation of SMC phenotype, which is associated with altered expression, localization of DNMTs and discrete changes DNA methylation.
Jiang, J. X., Aitken, K. J., Sotiropolous, C., Kirwan, T., Panchal, T., Zhang, N., … Bägli, D. J. (2013). Phenotypic Switching Induced by Damaged Matrix Is Associated with DNA Methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) Activity and Nuclear Localization in Smooth Muscle Cells (SMC). PLoS ONE, 8(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069089