While the effects of hypoxia on gene expression have been investigated in the CNS to some extent, we currently do not know what role epigenetics plays in the transcription of many genes during such hypoxic stress. To start understanding the role of epigenetic changes during hypoxia, we investigated the long-term effect of hypoxia on gene expression and DNA methylation in hippocampal neuronal cells. Primary murine hippocampal neuronal cells were cultured for 7 days. Hypoxic stress of 1% O2, 5% CO2 for 24 hours was applied on Day 3, conditions we found to maximize cellular hypoxic stress response without inducing cell death. Cells were returned to normoxia for 4 days following the period of hypoxic stress. On Day 7, Methyl-Sensitive Cut Counting (MSCC) was used to identify a genome-wide methylation profile of the hippocampal cell lines to assess methylation changes resulting from hypoxia. RNA-Seq was also done on Day 7 to analyze changes in gene transcription. Phenotypic analysis showed that neuronal processes were significantly shorter after 1 day of hypoxia, but there was a catch-up growth of these processes after return to normoxia. Transcriptome profiling using RNA-Seq revealed 369 differentially expressed genes with 225 being upregulated, many of which form networks shown to affect CNS development and function. Importantly, the expression level of 59 genes could be correlated to the changes in DNA methylation in their promoter regions. CpG islands, in particular, had a strong tendency to remain hypomethylated long after hypoxic stress was removed. From this study, we conclude that short-term, sub-lethal hypoxia results in long-lasting changes to genome wide DNA methylation status and that some of these changes can be highly correlated with transcriptional modulation in a number of genes involved in functional pathways that have been previously implicated in neural growth and development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)