In the present study we examined the methylation status of the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) gene promoter, analyzing various CG sites in both the human and rat gene in GFAP-expressing and nonexpressing tissues. Moreover, we studied the methylation of specific CG sites in different rat brain areas during postnatal development, in cell cultures highly enriched in specific neural- or non-neural-cell types (fibroblasts), and in human gliomas. The obtained results do not support a simple correlation between demethylation and expression of the GFAP gene but help to identify a cluster of CG sites in the 5' flanking region (from -1176 to -1471 in the rat) that are hypomethylated in neural cell types and localized in a region highly conserved between rat, mouse and human GFAP promoters. Neural-specific hypomethylation of this conserved zone can be observed also in the human GFAP gene both in normal brain tissue and neoplastic glial cells. A higher demethylation of the -1176 site at early stage of postnatal life was observed in specific rat brain areas, such as hippocampus and cerebellum. The most dramatic differences were observed in the cerebellum where a peak of demethylation of the -1176 site was detected at 15 days of postnatal life, followed by an intense remethylation of this site. Results of experiments in the CG4 glial progenitor cell line showed that demethylation of the -1176 site is already established before transcriptional activation of the GFAP gene. Moreover, results of experiments in primary cell cultures show that in neuronal cell types, such as cerebellar granule cells and embryonic cerebral hemisphere neurons, the level of demethylation of the -1176 site is comparable to that observed in cultured astrocytes. In contrast a high level of methylation can be observed in cultured non-neural cell types (fibroblasts). Such neural-specific hypomethylation could be established in a very early stage in the progression along the neural cell lineage and could play a role in maintaining a local open chromatin conformation which is then necessary to allow the interaction with specific regulatory factors present in astroglial cells.
|Titolo:||A neural-specific hypomethylated domain in the 5' flanking region of the glial fibrillary acidic protein gene|
|Data di pubblicazione:||1997|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|