Ianov L, Kumar A, Foster TC. Epigenetic regulation of estrogen receptor alpha contributes to age-related differences in transcription across the hippocampal regions CA1 and CA3. Neurobiol Aging 2016; 49:79-85.
The expression of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) varies across brain regions and changes with age and according to the previous history of estradiol exposure. ERα is regulated by a number of mechanisms including the level of mRNA (Esr1) expression. For this study, we took advantage of regional differences in hippocampal ERα expression to investigate DNA ERα promoter methylation at CpG dinucleotide sites as a potential epigenetic mechanism for regulating gene expression. Young and aged female Fischer 344 rats were ovariectomized, and Esr1 expression and ERα promoter methylation were examined in hippocampal regions CA1 and CA3, either 3 or 14 weeks following surgery. The results indicate that reduced Esr1 expression in region CA1 relative to CA3 was associated with an increase in DNA methylation in region CA1, particularly for the first CpG site. Additionally, differential methylation of distal CpG sites, 11-17, was associated with altered Esr1 expression during aging or following long-term hormone deprivation. The results support the idea that methylation of site 1 may be the primary regulatory region for cross-regional patterns in ERα expression, while distal sites are modifiable across the life span and may act as a feedback mechanism for ERα activity.
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