Combinatorial patterns of histone modifications regulate developmental and cell type-specific gene expression and underpin animal complexity, but it is unclear when this regulatory system evolved. By analysing histone modifications in a morphologically-simple, early branching animal, the sponge Amphimedonqueenslandica, we show that the regulatory landscape used by complex bilaterians was already in place at the dawn of animal multicellularity. This includes distal enhancers, repressive chromatin and transcriptional units marked by H3K4me3 that vary with levels of developmental regulation. Strikingly, Amphimedon enhancers are enriched in metazoan-specific microsyntenic units, suggesting that their genomic location is extremely ancient and likely to place constraints on the evolution of surrounding genes. These results suggest that the regulatory foundation for spatiotemporal gene expression evolved prior to the divergence of sponges and eumetazoans, and was necessary for the evolution of animal multicellularity.
The DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a suppresses tumorigenesis in models of leukemia and lung cancer. Conversely, deregulation of Dnmt3b is thought to generally promote tumorigenesis. However, the role of Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b in many types of cancer remains undefined. Here, we show that Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b are dispensable for homeostasis of the murine epidermis. However, loss of Dnmt3a-but not Dnmt3b-increases the number of carcinogen-induced squamous tumors, without affecting tumor progression. Only upon combined deletion of Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b, squamous carcinomas become more aggressive and metastatic. Mechanistically, Dnmt3a promotes the expression of epidermal differentiation genes by interacting with their enhancers and inhibits the expression of lipid metabolism genes, including PPAR-γ, by directly methylating their promoters. Importantly, inhibition of PPAR-γ partially prevents the increase in tumorigenesis upon deletion of Dnmt3a. Altogether, we demonstrate that Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b protect the epidermis from tumorigenesis and that squamous carcinomas are sensitive to inhibition of PPAR-γ.
Maternal obesity is a risk factor for offspring obesity. The melanocortin 4 receptor (Mc4r) is one of the mediators of food intake and energy balance. The present study examined the epigenetic mechanisms underlying altered Mc4r levels in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus in the offspring of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obese dams and sought to elucidate the role of thyroid hormones in epigenetic regulation and tagging of their nucleosome at the Mc4r promoter. Female Wistar rats were fed an HFD or standard chow from weaning through gestation and lactation. Epigenetic alterations were analyzed in the offspring on postnatal day 21 at the Mc4r promoter using chromatin immunoprecipitation and bisulfite sequencing. To study the role of triiodothyronine (T3) in Mc4r downregulation, dams received methimazole (MMI), an inhibitor of thyroid hormone production. Offspring of HFD-fed dams had a greater body weight, elevated plasma T3 concentrations, and lower Mc4r messenger RNA levels than controls. At the Mc4r promoter, offspring of HFD-fed mothers demonstrated increased histone 3 lysine 27 acetylation (H3K27ac) with a greater association to thyroid hormone receptor-β (TRβ), an inhibitor of Mc4r transcription. Moreover, TRβ coimmunoprecipitated with H3K27ac, supporting their presence in the same complex. Maternal MMI administration prevented the HFD reduction in Mc4r levels, the increase in TRβ, and the increase in the TRβ-H3K27ac association, providing further support for the role of T3 in downregulating Mc4r levels. These findings demonstrate that a perinatal HFD environment affects Mc4r regulation through a T3 metabolic pathway involving histone acetylation of its promoter.