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Variants of DNMT3A cause transcript-specific DNA methylation patterns and affect hematopoietic differentiation

By Tanja Božić, Joana Frobel, Annamarija Raic, Fabio Ticconi, Chao-Chung Kuo, Stefanie Heilmann-Heimbach, Tamme W. Goecke, Martin Zenke, Edgar Jost, Ivan G. Costa, Wolfgang Wagner

Posted 09 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/318188

The de novo DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) plays pivotal roles in hematopoietic differentiation. In this study, we followed the hypothesis that alternative splicing of DNMT3A has characteristic epigenetic and functional sequels. Specific DNMT3A transcripts were either downregulated or overexpressed in human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and this resulted in complementary and transcript-specific DNA methylation and gene expression changes. Functional analysis indicated that particularly transcript 2 (coding for DNMT3A2) activates proliferation and induces loss of a primitive immunophenotype, whereas transcript 4 interferes with colony formation of the erythroid lineage. Notably, in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) expression of transcript 2 correlates with its in vitro DNA methylation and gene expression signatures and is associated with overall survival, indicating that DNMT3A variants impact also on malignancies. Our results demonstrate that specific DNMT3A variants have distinct epigenetic and functional impact. Particularly DNMT3A2 triggers hematopoietic differentiation and the corresponding signatures are reflected in AML.

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