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Feeling the heat. Mapping the epigenetic modifications of histone during burn wound healing.

Burn injuries are observed throughout a wide range of ages, with over 1.1 million Americans suffering burns yearly, and half of these require hospitalization. Epigenetic modifications are fast-acting mechanisms that allow the human body to respond and adapt to environmental changes, including burn injuries. There is a lack of understanding of the epigenetic role during burn-induced tissue repair. Here, we characterize the histone modifications that follow burn injury, aiming at future pharmacological intervention using drugs capable of targeting epigenetic events. A clinically relevant porcine burn model was used to recapitulate the skin healing process after burn. Isolated skin tissues at different time points were used to detect the acetylation levels of histones H3K27, H4K5, H4K8, and H4K12 as significant players of gene transcription using MetaXpress High-Content Imaging analysis. We observed that the acetylation of histones is dynamically adjusted throughout healing, and its modifications are uniquely expressed according to the anatomical location and time of healing. We also observed that histone H4K5 is the most widely expressed during healing, followed by histone H3K27. We observed that histones expressed in intact skin tissue adjacent to the burn site could sense the burn injury by changing its histone acetylation pattern compared to control skin from uninjured and distant skin. Using a clinically relevant animal model, we have generated a comprehensive landscape of epigenetic modifications during burn healing. Our data will help us identify novel epi-drugs capable of manipulating histone modifications during healing to accelerate the healing process.

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