PSTPIP2 connects DNA methylation to macrophage polarization in CCL4-induced mouse model of hepatic fibrosis


Macrophages play a crucial role in the progression of hepatic fibrosis (HF). In macrophages, epigenetic mechanisms are increasingly being recognized as crucial controllers of their phenotype. However, the functions of macrophage DNA methylation in experimental models of hepatic fibrosis have not been fully addressed. Here, we analyzed isolated hepatic macrophages DNA methylation from CCL4-induced (4 weeks) mice using reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS). We identified and validated the methylation status of 26 gene promoter regions associated with CpG islands. We further investigated the function of PSTPIP2 in HF by hepatic-adeno-associated virus (AAV9)–PSTPIP2 overexpression. The molecular mechanisms underlying PSTPIPS2-regulated HF were further explored in mice and RAW264.7 cell line. RRBS results show hypermethylation of PSTPIP2 (chr18: 77,843,840–77,843,968) in the 5’-UTR region. PSTPIP2 expression was significantly decreased in isolated hepatic macrophages from CCL4-induced mice. PSTPIP2 hypermethylation is mediated by the methyltransferases DNMT3a and DNMT3b in LPS-induced RAW264.7 cell line. Further investigation indicated that specific overexpression of PSTPIP2 in C57BL/6 mice reduced the inflammatory response and ameliorated liver fibrosis. These data indicated that hypermethylation of PSTPIP2 caused a mixed induction of hepatic classical macrophage (M1) and alternative macrophage (M2) biomarkers in CCL4-induced HF mice. Furthermore, overexpression of PSTPIP2 inhibited the expression of M1 markers by suppressing STAT1 activity, and enhanced the expression of M2 markers by promoting STAT6 activity. In contrast, knockdown of PSTPIP2 promoted M1 polarization and suppressed M2 polarization in vitro. Adding PSTPIP2 expression alleviates liver fibrosis and hepatic inflammation in mice by regulating macrophage polarization.

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This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81770609).

Author contributions

Y.Y. performed the experiments, analyzed data, and drafted the paper; X.-q.W. helped design the study and draft the paper. W.-x.L. helped isolate hepatic macrophages. H.-m.H., H.-d.L. and X.-y.P. conducted Co-IP and ELISA analysis. X.-f.L. helped data analysis. C.H. and X.m.M. participated in the study design. H.W., L.Z. and X.-w.L. conducted and supervised the study. H.W. and J.L. conceived the study and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jun Li.

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