Histone and DNA methylation-mediated epigenetic downregulation of endothelial Kruppel-like factor 2 by low-density lipoprotein cholesterol

Ajay Kumar, Santosh Kumar, Ajit Vikram, Timothy A Hoffman, Asma Naqvi, Christopher M Lewarchik, Young-Rae Kim, Kaikobad Irani
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 2013, 33 (8): 1936-42

OBJECTIVE: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol induces endothelial dysfunction and is a major modifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease. Endothelial Kruppel-like Factor 2 (KLF2) is a transcription factor that is vital to endothelium-dependent vascular homeostasis. The purpose of this study is to determine whether and how LDL affects endothelial KLF2 expression.

APPROACH AND RESULTS: LDL downregulates KLF2 expression and promoter activity in endothelial cells. LDL-induced decrease in KLF2 parallels changes in endothelial KLF2 target genes thrombomodulin, endothelial NO synthase, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. Pharmacological inhibition of DNA methyltransferases or knockdown of DNA methyltransferase 1 prevents downregulation of endothelial KLF2 by LDL. LDL induces endothelial DNA methyltransferase 1 expression and DNA methyltransferase activity. LDL stimulates binding of the DNA methyl-CpG-binding protein-2 and histone methyltransferase enhancer of zeste homolog 2, whereas decreases binding of the KLF2 transcriptional activator myocyte enhancing factor-2, to the KLF2 promoter in endothelial cells. Knockdown of myocyte enhancing factor-2, or mutation of the myocyte enhancing factor-2 site in the KLF2 promoter, abrogates LDL-induced downregulation of endothelial KLF2 and thrombomodulin, and KLF2 promoter activity. Similarly, knockdown of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 negates LDL-induced downregulation of KLF2 and thrombomodulin in endothelial cells. Finally, overexpression of KLF2 rescues LDL-induced clotting of platelet-rich plasma on endothelial cells.

CONCLUSIONS: LDL represses endothelial KLF2 expression via DNA and histone methylation. Downregulation of KLF2 by LDL leads to a dysfunctional, hypercoagulable endothelium.

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