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Christina F. Tingle, Brian Magnuson, Yi Zhao, Curtis J. Heisel, Phillip E. Kish, Alon Kahana; Paradoxical Changes Underscore Epigenetic Reprogramming During Adult Zebrafish Extraocular Muscle Regeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(15):4991-4999. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.19-27556.
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Genomic reprogramming and cellular dedifferentiation are critical to the success of de novo tissue regeneration in lower vertebrates such as zebrafish and axolotl. In tissue regeneration following injury or disease, differentiated cells must retain lineage while assuming a progenitor-like identity in order to repopulate the damaged tissue. Understanding the epigenetic regulation of programmed cellular dedifferentiation provides unique insights into the biology of stem cells and cancer and may lead to novel approaches for treating human degenerative conditions.
Using a zebrafish in vivo model of adult muscle regeneration, we utilized chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by massively parallel DNA sequencing (ChIP-seq) to characterize early changes in epigenetic signals, focusing on three well-studied histone modifications—histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 4 (H3K4me3), and histone H3 trimethylated or acetylated at lysine 27 (H3K27me3 and H3K27Ac, respectively).
We discovered that zebrafish myocytes undergo a global, rapid, and transient program to drive genomic remodeling. The timing of these epigenetic changes suggests that genomic reprogramming itself represents a distinct sequence of events, with predetermined checkpoints, to generate cells capable of de novo regeneration. Importantly, we uncovered subsets of genes that maintain epigenetic marks paradoxical to changes in expression, underscoring the complexity of epigenetic reprogramming.
Within our model, histone modifications previously associated with gene expression act for the most part as expected, with exceptions suggesting that zebrafish chromatin maintains an easily editable state with a number of genes paradoxically marked for transcriptional activity despite downregulation.
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