K. Satyamoorthy, Ph.D.
Director, Life Sciences Centre, Manipal University, India
Epigenetic Changes due to DNA Methylation in Human Epithelial Tumors
Extensive global hypomethylation in the genome and hypermthylation of selective tumor specific suppressor genes appears to be a hallmark of human cancers. Data suggests that hypermethylation of promoter region in genes is more closely related to subsequent gene expression; contrary to gene-body DNA methylation. The intricate balance between these two may contribute to the progressive process of development, differentiation and carcinogenesis. Epigenetic changes encompass, apart from DNA methylation, chromatin modifications through post-translational changes in histones and control by miRNAs. At the genome level, effects from these are compounded by copy number variations (CNVs) which may ultimately influence protein functions. From clinical perspective, changes in DNA methylation occur very early which are reversible and are influenced by environmental factors. Therefore, these can be potential resource for identifying therapeutic targets as well as biomarkers for early screening of cancer. Our current efforts in profiling genome wide DNA methylation changes in oral, cervical and breast cancers through DNA methylation microarray analysis has revealed number of alterations critical for survival, progression and metastatic behavior of tumors. Bioinformatics and functional analysis revealed several key regulatory molecules controlled by DNA methylation and suggests that DNA methylation changes in several CpG islands appear to co-segregate in the regions of miRNAs as well as in the CNVs. We have validated the signatures for methylation of CpG islands through bisufite sequencing for essential genes in clinical samples and have undertaken transcriptional and functional analysis in tumor cell lines. These results will be presented.
Andrey Panteleyev, Ph.D.
Vice Chair, Division of Molecular Biology, NBICS Centre-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia
The system of PAS proteins (HIF and AhR) as an interface between environment and skin homeostasis
Regulation of normal skin functions as well as etiology of many skin diseases are both tightly linked to the environmental impact. Nevertheless, molecular aspects of skin-environment communication and mechanisms coordinating skin response to a plurality of environmental stressors remain poorly understood.
Our studies along with the work of other groups have identified the family of PAS dimeric transcription factors as an essential sensory and regulatory component of communication between skin and the environment. This protein family comprises a number of hypoxia-induced factors (HIF-alpha proteins), aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), AhR nuclear translocator (ARNT), and several proteins implicated in control of rhythmic processes (Clock, Period, and Bmal proteins). Together, various PAS proteins (and first of all ARNT – as the central dimerization partner in the family) control such pivotal aspects of cell physiology as drug/xenobiotic metabolism, hypoxic and UV light response, ROS activity, pathogen defense, overall energy balance and breathing pathways.
In his presentation Dr. Panteleyev will focus on the role of ARNT activity and local hypoxia in control of keratinocyte differentiation and cornification. His recent work revealed that ARNT negatively regulates expression of late differentiation genes through modulation of amphiregulin expression and downstream alterations in activity of EGFR pathway. All these effects are highly dependent on epigenetic mechanisms such as histone deacetylation. Characterisation of hypoxia as a key microenvironmental factor in the skin and the role of HIF pathway in control of dermal vasculature and epidermal functions is another major focus of Dr. Panteleyev’s presentation.
In general, the studies of Dr. Panteleyev’s laboratory provide an insight into the PAS-dependent maintenance of skin homeostasis and point to the potential role of these proteins in pathogenesis of environmentally-modulated skin diseases such as barrier defects, desquamation abnormalities, psoriasis, etc.