It is now appreciated that genomes are dynamic and that selective packing of DNA governs the expression of distinct sets of genes in a cell. The wrapping of DNA around nucleosomes and its organization into higher order structures is fundamentally influenced by chromatin remodeling enzymes. These enzymes selectively position nucleosomes along the DNA strand and influence the interaction of histones with DNA by modifying the amino terminal tails of histones. Gross changes in chromatin structure are most prominent during development and influence cell fate by establishing cell-type-specific gene expression. Changes in chromatin structure have also been observed during disease and disruption of chromatin remodeling enzymes has been implicated in cardiac hypertrophy. However, a clear picture of the protein networks that modulate chromatin architecture in the heart is needed to understand how gene expression is reprogrammed on a genome-wide scale during disease. Although the post-translational modification (PTM) of histones has been well established, the enzymes responsible for the selective addition and removal of these regulatory marks have only begun to be characterized. A newly emerging family of histone methyltransferases (HMTs) is called Smyd. Germline deletion of the muscle-restricted family member, Smyd1, leads to embryonic lethality due to impaired cardiac differentiation. Consistent with this observation, overexpression of Smyd1 in muscle precursor cells led to accelerated differentiation. Despite these intriguing insights into the role of Smyd1 during development, its endogenous localization, regulation and role in cardiac disease are unknown. My preliminary data demonstrate increased Smyd1 abundance during heart failure and establish the approaches to determine its activity, intracellular localization and mechanisms of action in this application. The short term goal of this application is to understand the role of Smyd1 in the adult myocardium and to characterize its downstream targets during heart failure. The long term goal of this project is to integrate these concepts to understand the factors that confer targeting specificity to Smyd1 in the cardiac genome. This application leverages state-of-the-art proteomics, animal physiology, biochemistry, imaging and next generation sequencing technology to advance our understanding of heart failure. Our approach will provide fundamental insights into the activation and regulation of HMTs, as well as the mechanisms that confer specificity in their targeting of the genome. The significance to the clinical realm is to provide a mechanistic basis for how the genome is reprogrammed with disease, such that future interventions can target specific chromatin remodeling events therapeutically.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world. The goal of this grant is to understand how a specific protein called Smyd1 modulates the expression of genes in the normal heart and how changes in its function during disease affect the development of cardiac hypertrophy.