Interleukin-6 determines protein stabilization of DNA methyltransferases and alters DNA promoter methylation of genes associated with insulin signaling and angiogenesis

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Individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) display vascular insulin resistance and decreased nitric oxide production leading to vasoconstriction and atherosclerosis. Soluble factors such as pro-inflammatory molecules, and various genetic and epigenetic mechanisms have been implicated to induce insulin resistance in vascular endothelial cells. Epigenetic mechanisms such as altered promoter DNA methylation have been demonstrated in development and progression of metabolic disorders and atherosclerosis. However, underlying precise epigenetic mechanisms regulating cross talk between insulin signaling genes and inflammation in vascular cells remains to be fully understood. Human endothelial cells when (a) treated with interleukin-6 (IL-6) and insulin together, (b) pretreated with IL-6, and (c) under hyperinsulinemic conditions led to a state of vascular insulin resistance resulting in decreased Akt/eNOS activation and subsequent stabilization of STAT3 phosphorylation. IL-6 abrogated insulin effects on angiogenesis in 3D spheroid and matrigel assays. IL-6-induced insulin resistance was associated with decreased activity of DNA methyltransferase isoforms and global DNA hypomethylation, which inversely correlated with S-phase of cell cycle. CpG microarray analysis in IL-6 treated endothelial cells revealed promoters associated hypo- and hypermethylation of 199 and 98 genes respectively. Promoter DNA methylation status of genes associated with insulin signaling and angiogenesis such as RPS6KA2, PIK3R2, FOXD3, EXOC7, MAP3K8, ITPKB, EPHA6, IGF1R, and FOXC2 were validated by bisulfite DNA sequencing. Concentration and time-dependent analysis revealed that IL-6 reduced DNMT1 and DNMT3B but not DNMT3A protein levels. Our data indicate a causal link between IL-6-induced changes in global and promoter-specific DNA methylation, due to reduced DNMT1 and DNMT3B protein levels leading to altered expression of critical genes involved in insulin signaling and angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1158
Number of pages16
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 01-09-2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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