Section for Integrative Physiology – University of Copenhagen

Forward this page to a friend Resize Print Bookmark and Share

Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research > Integrative Physiology

Muscle Contraction Induces Acute Hydroxymethylation of the Exercise-Responsive Gene Nr4a3

Research output: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

Exercise training triggers numerous positive adaptations through the regulation of genes controlling muscle structure and function. Epigenetic modifications, including DNA methylation, participate in transcriptional activation by allowing the recruitment of the transcription machinery to gene promoters. Exercise induces dynamic DNA demethylation at gene promoters; however, the contribution of the demethylation precursor hydroxymethylcytosine is unknown. Given the evanescent nature of hydroxymethylcytosine, a muscle contraction model that allows for the collection of samples that are repeatedly stimulated over time is required to determine whether contraction-induced demethylation is preceded by changes in the hydroxymethylcytosine level. Here, we established an acute skeletal muscle contraction model to mimic the effects of acute exercise on gene expression. We used this model to investigate the effect of muscle contraction on DNA demethylation and hydroxymethylation. First, we performed an acute exercise study in healthy humans to identify an exercise-responsive gene that we could study in culture. We identified the nuclear receptor subfamily 4 group A member 3 (Nr4a3) gene with the highest fold-expression increase after acute exercise. We then refined an electrical pulse stimulation (EPS) protocol that could induce expression of the Nr4a3 gene in C2C12 myotubes. Using targeted bisulfite sequencing, we found that in response to EPS, a region of the Nr4a3 promoter is rapidly demethylated at 60 min and re-methylated at 120 min. Of interest, hydroxymethylation of the differentially methylated region of Nr4a3 promoter after EPS was elevated immediately after EPS, with lowest levels reached at 60 min after EPS. In conclusion, we have established a cell culture-based protocol to mimic the acute transcriptional responses to exercise. Furthermore, we provide insight into the mechanism by which the exercise-responsive gene Nr4a3 is demethylated after muscle contraction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Volume7
Number of pages9
ISSN1664-2392
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

ID: 171658257