Ethanol induced acetylation of histone at G9a exon1 and G9a-mediated histone H3 dimethylation leads to neurodegeneration in neonatal mice

S. Subbanna, N. N. Nagre, M. Shivakumar, N. S. Umapathy, D. Psychoyos, B. S. Basavarajappa

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The transient exposure of immature rodents to ethanol during postnatal day 7 (P7), comparable to a time point within the third trimester of human pregnancy, induces neurodegeneration. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the deleterious effects of ethanol on the developing brain are poorly understood. In our previous study, we showed that a high dose administration of ethanol at P7 enhances G9a and leads to caspase-3-mediated degradation of dimethylated H3 on lysine 9 (H3K9me2). In this study, we investigated the potential role of epigenetic changes at G9a exon1, G9a-mediated H3 dimethylation on neurodegeneration and G9a-associated proteins in the P7 brain following exposure to a low dose of ethanol. We found that a low dose of ethanol induces mild neurodegeneration in P7 mice, enhances specific acetylation of H3 on lysine 14 (H3K14ace) at G9a exon1, G9a protein levels, augments the dimethylation of H3K9 and H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me2). However, neither dimethylated H3K9 nor K27 underwent degradation. Pharmacological inhibition of G9a activity prior to ethanol treatment prevented H3 dimethylation and neurodegeneration. Further, our immunoprecipitation data suggest that G9a directly associates with DNA methyltransferase (DNMT3A) and methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2). In addition, DNMT3A and MeCP2 protein levels were enhanced by a low dose of ethanol that was shown to induce mild neurodegeneration. Collectively, these epigenetic alterations lead to association of G9a, DNMT3A and MeCP2 to form a larger repressive complex and have a significant role in low-dose ethanol-induced neurodegeneration in the developing brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-432
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Jan 31 2014



  • Apoptosis
  • DNMT3A
  • Development
  • Epigenetic
  • FASD
  • MeCP2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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