Hemodynamic disturbed flow induces differential DNA methylation of endothelial Kruppel-Like Factor 4 promoter in vitro and in vivo

Yi-Zhou Jiang, Juan M Jiménez, Kristy Ou, Margaret E McCormick, Ling-Di Zhang, Peter F Davies
Circulation Research 2014 June 20, 115 (1): 32-43

RATIONALE: Hemodynamic disturbed flow (DF) is associated with susceptibility to atherosclerosis. Endothelial Kruppel-Like Factor 4 (KLF4) is an important anti-inflammatory atheroprotective transcription factor that is suppressed in regions of DF.

OBJECTIVE: The plasticity of epigenomic KLF4 transcriptional regulation by flow-mediated DNA methylation was investigated in vitro and in arterial tissue.

METHODS AND RESULTS: To recapitulate dominant flow characteristics of atheroprotected and atherosusceptible arteries, human aortic endothelial cells were subjected to pulsatile undisturbed flow or oscillatory DF containing a flow-reversing phase. Differential CpG site methylation was measured by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction, bisulfite pyrosequencing, and restriction enzyme-polymerase chain reaction. The methylation profiles of endothelium from disturbed and undisturbed flow sites of adult swine aortas were also investigated. In vitro, DF increased DNA methylation of CpG islands within the KLF4 promoter that significantly contributed to suppression of KLF4 transcription; the effects were mitigated by DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitors and knockdown of DNMT3A. Contributory mechanisms included DF-induced increase of DNMT3A protein (1.7-fold), DNMT3A enrichment (11-fold) on the KLF4 promoter, and competitive blocking of a myocyte enhancer factor-2 binding site in the KLF4 promoter near the transcription start site. DF also induced DNMT-sensitive propathological expression of downstream KLF4 transcription targets nitric oxide synthase 3, thrombomodulin, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. In support of the in vitro findings, swine aortic endothelium isolated from DF regions expressed significantly lower KLF4 and nitric oxide synthase 3, and bisulfite sequencing of KLF4 promoter identified a hypermethylated myocyte enhancer factor-2 binding site.

CONCLUSIONS: Hemodynamics influence endothelial KLF4 expression through DNMT enrichment/myocyte enhancer factor-2 inhibition mechanisms of KLF4 promoter CpG methylation with regional consequences for atherosusceptibility.

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