Epigenetic changes in DNA and histones are known to significantly influence the gene expression and outcome after many diseases. The role of epigenetics in ischemic brain damage is not yet fully understood. Of particular interest, the cytosine in DNA undergoes methylation to form 5-methylcytosine (5mC) which is known to be a transcriptional silencer. Recent studies showed that 5mC will be oxidized by ten-eleven translocation (TET) hydroxylases to form 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). This epigenetic change is considered as a transcriptional derepression mark that increases cell survival under adverse conditions. In particular, brain contains ~10 fold higher 5hmC levels than other organs of the body. Preliminary studies showed that transient focal ischemia in adult rodents significantly increase the genomic 5hmC levels in the peri-infarct cortex. TET3 knockdown decreased 5hmC levels, and exacerbated post-ischemic mortality and infarction in both male and female mice. On the other hand, increasing 5hmC levels by treatment with ascorbate (a TET inducer) significantly protected the brain after focal ischemia in a TET3-dependent manner. Hence, we hypothesize that ?Tet3 mediated induction of 5hmC is a neuroprotective adaptation that can be potentiated to protect brain after stroke.? The major neuronal isoform of TET3 lacks DNA binding domains. Our preliminary data show that TET3 binds to lncRNAs with high affinity. The lncRNAs are known to act as scaffolds to bring DNA/RNA/protein together enabling their action. LncRNAs are also known to modulate post-stroke outcome. Hence, we further hypothesize that ?lncRNAs play a vital role in scaffolding and guiding TET3 to specific genomic sites, and thus modulate 5hmC levels and functional outcome after stroke.? Aim 1: To evaluate if DNA hydroxymethylation is neuroprotective after stroke. We will test the functional significance of 5hmC in post-stroke pathophysiology by loss of function and gain of function of TET3. Genomic sites where 5hmC is increased after stroke will be mapped by chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with massively parallel DNA sequencing (ChIP-seq) following TET3 knockdown and induction.
Aim 2 : To study if lncRNAs regulate TET3-mediated DNA hydroxymethylation and the ensuing neuroprotection after stroke. We will determine the genomic locations modulated by the TET3-interacting lncRNAs by high throughput sequencing method chromatin isolation by RNA purification (ChiRP-seq). We will further study if lncRNA function is essential for TET3/5hmC mediated neuroprotection after stroke. The long-term goal is to define the role of 5hmC in post-ischemic pathology and to test if increasing 5hmC levels is beneficial after stroke.
Studying the molecular mechanisms of post-stroke brain damage and testing new drugs will help to minimize neurological dysfunction in the affected. The present project is to evaluate an epigenetic change called DNA hydroxymethylation (5hmC) that is thought to be beneficial after stroke. The proposal will evaluate if increasing 5hmC protects brain after stroke in rodent models as a function of age and sex. The proposal will also test the mechanisms of action of 5hmC in conjunction with long noncoding RNAs. The long-term goal is to identify new epigenetic targets that are amenable for therapy to minimize post-stroke brain damage.