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Title: Histone methylation analysis and pathway predictions in chickens after MDV infection

item LUO, JUAN - University Of Maryland
item MITRA, APRATIM - University Of Maryland
item TIAN, FEI - University Of Maryland
item CHANG, SHUANG - Michigan State University
item Zhang, Huanmin
item CUI, KAIRONG - National Institutes Of Health (NIH)
item YU, YING - University Of Maryland
item ZHAO, KEJI - National Institutes Of Health (NIH)
item SONG, JIUZHOU - University Of Maryland

Submitted to: PLOS ONE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/29/2012
Publication Date: 7/26/2012
Citation: Luo, J., Mitra, A., Tian, F., Chang, S., Zhang, H., Cui, K., Yu, Y., Zhao, K., Song, J. 2012. Histone methylation analysis and pathway predictions in chickens after MDV infection. PLoS One. 7(7). Available:

Interpretive Summary: Recent studies show disease resistance is not only dependent of host genetics but also of host epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic factors include DNA methylation and histone modification. Specific key histone modifications were genome-wide profiled in chickens challenged with Marek’s disease virus (MDV). Our data show MDV induction caused a significant amount of histone modifications, which, in turn, altered multiple gene expression levels, especially in immune-related cells. This finding advances our knowledge in better understanding epigenetic roles in viral induced diseases in chickens.

Technical Abstract: Marek’s disease (MD) is a lymphoproliferative disease in chicken induced by Marek’s disease virus (MDV). Although studies have focused on the genetic differences between the resistant and susceptible chicken, less is known about the role of epigenetic factors in MD. In this study, genome-wide histone modifications in the non-MHC-associated resistant and susceptible chicken lines were examined. We found that tri-methylation at histone H3 Lys4 (H3K4me3) enrichment is positively correlated with the expression of protein coding genes as well as microRNA (miRNA) genes, whereas trimethylation at histone H3 Lys27 (H3K27me3) exhibits a negative correlation. By identifying line-specific histone modifications in MDV infection, we found unique H3K4me3 islands in the resistant chicken activated genes, which are related to immune response and cell adhesion. Interestingly, we also found some miRNAs from unique H3K27me3 patterns in the susceptible chickens that targeted genes involved in 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)-receptor and adrenergic receptor pathways. In conclusion, dynamic line-specific histone modifications in response to MDV infection suggested that intrinsic epigenetic mechanisms may play a role in MD-resistance and -susceptibility.