Wilson Disease: Intersecting DNA Methylation and Histone Acetylation Regulation of Gene Expression in a Mouse Model of Hepatic Copper Accumulation

Gaurav V. Sarode, Kari Neier, Noreene M. Shibata, Yuanjun Shen, Dmitry A. Goncharov, Elena A. Goncharova, Tagreed A. Mazi, Nikhil Joshi, Matthew L. Settles, Janine M. LaSalle, Valentina Medici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: The pathogenesis of Wilson disease (WD) involves hepatic and brain copper accumulation resulting from pathogenic variants affecting the ATP7B gene and downstream epigenetic and metabolic mechanisms. Prior methylome investigations in human WD liver and blood and in the Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, ME) C3He-Atp7btx-j/J (tx-j) WD mouse model revealed an epigenetic signature of WD, including changes in histone deacetylase (HDAC) 5. We tested the hypothesis that histone acetylation is altered with respect to copper overload and aberrant DNA methylation in WD. Methods: We investigated class IIa HDAC4 and HDAC5 and H3K9/H3K27 histone acetylation in tx-j mouse livers compared with C3HeB/FeJ (C3H) control in response to 3 treatments: 60% kcal fat diet, D-penicillamine (copper chelator), and choline (methyl group donor). Experiments with copper-loaded hepatoma G2 cells were conducted to validate in vivo studies. Results: In 9-week tx-j mice, HDAC5 levels increased significantly after 8 days of a 60% kcal fat diet compared with chow. In 24-week tx-j mice, HDAC4/5 levels were reduced 5- to 10-fold compared with C3H, likely through mechanisms involving HDAC phosphorylation. HDAC4/5 levels were affected by disease progression and accompanied by increased acetylation. D-penicillamine and choline partially restored HDAC4/5 and H3K9ac/H3K27ac to C3H levels. Integrated RNA and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing analyses revealed genes regulating energy metabolism and cellular stress/development, which, in turn, were regulated by histone acetylation in tx-j mice compared with C3H mice, with Pparα and Pparγ among the most relevant targets. Conclusions: These results suggest dietary modulation of class IIa HDAC4/5, and subsequent H3K9/H3K27 acetylation/deacetylation can regulate gene expression in key metabolic pathways in the pathogenesis of WD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1457-1477
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Copper
  • Histone Deacetylase
  • Liver
  • Metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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