Liu, X., Jia, X., Yuan, H., Ma, K., Chen, Y., Jin, Y., Deng, M., Pan, W., Chen, S., Chen, Z., de The, H., Zon, L.I., Zhou, Y., Zhou, J., Zhu, J. (2015) DNA methyltransferase 1 functions through C/ebpa to maintain hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in zebrafish. Journal of Hematology & Oncology. 8:15.
Background DNA methyltransferase 1 (Dnmt1) regulates expression of many critical genes through maintaining parental DNA methylation patterns on daughter DNA strands during mitosis. It is essential for embryonic development and diverse biological processes, including maintenance of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). However, the precise molecular mechanism of how Dnmt1 is involved in HSPC maintenance remains unexplored.
Methods An N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU)-based genetic screening was performed to identify putative mutants with defects in definitive HSPCs during hematopoiesis in zebrafish. The expression of hematopoietic markers was analyzed via whole mount in situ hybridization assay (WISH). Positional cloning approach was carried out to identify the gene responsible for the defective definitive hematopoiesis in the mutants. Analyses of the mechanism were conducted by morpholino-mediated gene knockdown, mRNA injection rescue assays, anti-phosphorylated histone H3 (pH3) immunostaining and TUNEL assay, quantitative real-time PCR, and bisulfite sequencing analysis.
Results A heritable mutant line with impaired HSPCs of definitive hematopoiesis was identified. Positional cloning demonstrated that a stop codon mutation was introduced in dnmt1 which resulted in a predicted truncated Dnmt1 lacking the DNA methylation catalytic domain. Molecular analysis revealed that expression of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (C/ebpa) was upregulated, which correlated with hypomethylation of CpG islands in the regulation regions of cebpa gene in Dnmt1 deficient HSPCs. Overexpression of a transcriptional repressive SUMO-C/ebpa fusion protein could rescue hematological defects in the dnmt1 mutants. Finally, dnmt1 and cebpa double null embryos exhibited no obvious abnormal hematopoiesis indicated that the HSPC defects triggered by dnmt1 mutation were C/ebpa dependent.
Conclusions Dnmt1 is required for HSPC maintenance via cebpa regulation during definitive hematopoiesis in zebrafish.