- Epigenetic regulation of innate immune responses (2011)
- We found that the HMTase G9a, that catalyzes H3K9me2 in euchromatin, plays a key modulatory role in type I IFN expression. This finding raises the possibility of targeted intervention with type I IFN expression by using small synthetic inhibitors of G9a. Given the overall minimal negative effect of G9a-deficiency on differentiated cells, the short-term suppression of G9a could be used to potentiate type I IFN expression during chronic viral diseases such as hepatitis C. Accordingly, pharmacological enhancement of methylation, for example by inhibition of the H3K9me2 specific demethylases, could be potentially used to attenuate type I IFN expression and help to control chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. The mechanism responsible for canvassing the epigenetic profile of type I IFN expressing cells are not known. It is plausible, that similar to neurons, where G9a is targeted to specific loci with the help of noncoding RNAs, IFN expressing cells possess similar mechanisms to target H3K9me2 demethylating enzymes to type I IFN loci, thus keeping these loci accessible for IFN-inducing transcription factors. Identification of non-coding RNAs that may contribute to the establishment of the epigenetic state of IFN producing cells will provide a further opportunity for targeted manipulation of IFN expression. In my thesis, I describe the collaborative experiments that show the ability of synthetic compounds that interfere with the histone readers to suppress inflammation. Our results present a novel concept for the regulation of inflammatory gene expression. The diversity of histone readers and the combinatorial nature of regulation of gene transcription may provide an opportunity for highly selective interference with disease associated transcriptional programs by interfering with specific readers. In the future we plan to address the therapeutic potential of BET antagonists in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions.In summary, the experiments described in my thesis provide an example of how the understanding of the basic mechanisms of chromatin control of gene expression can facilitate novel therapeutic approaches that target chromatin.