DNA methyltransferase inhibition induces dynamic gene expression changes in lung CD4+ T cells of neonatal mice with E. coli pneumonia

Nigel S. Michki*, Roland Ndeh, Kathryn A. Helmin, Benjamin D. Singer, Sharon A. McGrath-Morrow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bacterial pulmonary infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in neonates, with less severity in older children. Previous studies demonstrated that the DNA of CD4+ T cells in the mouse lung, whose primary responsibility is to coordinate the immune response to foreign pathogens, is differentially methylated in neonates compared with juveniles. Nevertheless, the effect of this differential DNA methylation on CD4+ T cell gene expression and response to infection remains unclear. Here we treated E. coli-infected neonatal (4-day-old) and juvenile (13-day-old) mice with decitabine (DAC), a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor with broad-spectrum DNA demethylating activity, and performed simultaneous genome-wide DNA methylation and transcriptional profiling on lung CD4+ T cells. We show that juvenile and neonatal mice experienced differential demethylation in response to DAC treatment, with larger methylation differences observed in neonates. By cross-filtering differentially expressed genes between juveniles and neonates with those sites that were demethylated in neonates, we find that interferon-responsive genes such as Ifit1 are the most down-regulated methylation-sensitive genes in neonatal mice. DAC treatment shifted neonatal lung CD4+ T cells toward a gene expression program similar to that of juveniles. Following lung infection with E. coli, lung CD4+ T cells in neonatal mice exhibit epigenetic repression of important host defense pathways, which are activated by inhibition of DNA methyltransferase activity to resemble a more mature profile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4283
JournalScientific reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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