DNA methylation reprograms cardiac metabolic gene expression in end-stage human heart failure

Academic Article


  • Heart failure (HF) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide. As a multifactorial syndrome with unpredictable clinical outcomes, identifying the common molecular underpinnings that drive HF pathogenesis remains a major focus of investigation. Disruption of cardiac gene expression has been shown to mediate a common final cascade of pathological hallmarks wherein the heart reactivates numerous developmental pathways. Although the central regulatory mechanisms that drive this cardiac transcriptional reprogramming remain unknown, epigenetic contributions are likely. In the current study, we examined whether the epigenome, specifically DNA methylation, is reprogrammed in HF to potentiate a pathological shift in cardiac gene expression. To accomplish this, we used pairedend whole genome bisulfite sequencing and next-generation RNA sequencing of left ventricle tissue obtained from seven patients with end-stage HF and three nonfailing donor hearts. We found that differential methylation was localized to promoter-associated cytosine- phosphate-guanine islands, which are established regulatory regions of downstream genes. Hypermethylated promoters were associated with genes involved in oxidative metabolism, whereas promoter hypomethylation enriched glycolytic pathways. Overexpression of plasmid-derived DNA methyltransferase 3A in vitro was sufficient to lower the expression of numerous oxidative metabolic genes in H9c2 rat cardiomyoblasts, further supporting the importance of epigenetic factors in the regulation of cardiac metabolism. Last, we identified binding-site competition via hypermethylation of the nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1) motif, an established upstream regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis. These preliminary observations are the first to uncover an etiology-independent shift in cardiac DNA methylation that corresponds with altered metabolic gene expression in HF. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The failing heart undergoes profound metabolic changes because of alterations in cardiac gene expression, reactivating glycolytic genes and suppressing oxidative metabolic genes. In the current study, we discover that alterations to cardiac DNA methylation encode this fetal-like metabolic gene reprogramming. We also identify novel epigenetic interference of nuclear respiratory factor 1 via hypermethylation of its downstream promoter targets, further supporting a novel contribution of DNA methylation in the metabolic remodeling of heart failure.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pepin ME; Drakos S; Ha CM; Tristani-Firouzi M; Selzman CH; Fang JC; Wende AR; Wever-Pinzon O
  • Start Page

  • H674
  • End Page

  • H684
  • Volume

  • 317
  • Issue

  • 4