December 3, 2020

The DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) acts on neurodegeneration by modulating proteostasis-relevant intracellular processes

The limited regenerative capacity of neuronal cells requires tight orchestration of cell death and survival regulation in the context of longevity, as well as age-associated and neurodegenerative diseases. Subordinate to genetic networks, epigenetic mechanisms, like DNA methylation and histone modifications, are involved in the regulation of neuronal functionality, and emerge as key contributors to the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases. DNA methylation, a dynamic and reversible process, is executed by DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs). DNMT1 was previously shown to regulate neuronal survival in the aged brain, whereby a DNMT1-dependent modulation of processes relevant for protein degradation was proposed as underlying mechanism. Functional proteostasis networks are a mandatory prerequisite for the functionality and long-term survival of neurons. Malfunctioning proteostasis is found, inter alia, in neurodegenerative contexts. Here, we investigated whether DNMT1 affects critical aspects of the proteostasis network by a combination of expression studies, life cell imaging and biochemical analyses. We found that DNMT1 negatively impacts retrograde trafficking and autophagy, both being involved in the clearance of aggregation-prone proteins by the aggresome-autophagy pathway. In line with this, we found that the transport of GFP-labeled mutant HTT to perinuclear regions, proposed to by cytoprotective, also depends on DNMT1. Depletion of Dnmt1 accelerated HTT perinuclear HTT aggregation and improved the survival of cells transfected with mutant HTT. This suggests that mutant HTT-induced cytotoxicity is at least in part mediated by DNMT1-dependent modulation of degradative pathways.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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