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Inhibition of KDM7A/B histone demethylases restores H3K79 methylation and protects against osteoarthritis


Objectives In osteoarthritis, methylation of lysine 79 on histone H3 (H3K79me), a protective epigenetic mechanism, is reduced. Histone methylation levels are dynamically regulated by histone methyltransferases and demethylases. Here, we aimed to identify which histone demethylases regulate H3K79me in cartilage and investigate whether their targeting protects against osteoarthritis.

Methods We determined histone demethylase expression in human non-osteoarthritis and osteoarthritis cartilage using qPCR. The role of histone demethylase families and subfamilies on H3K79me was interrogated by treatment of human C28/I2 chondrocytes with pharmacological inhibitors, followed by western blot and immunofluorescence. We performed C28/I2 micromasses to evaluate effects on glycosaminoglycans by Alcian blue staining. Changes in H3K79me after destabilisation of the medial meniscus (DMM) in mice were determined by immunohistochemistry. Daminozide, a KDM2/7 subfamily inhibitor, was intra-articularly injected in mice upon DMM. Histone demethylases targeted by daminozide were individually silenced in chondrocytes to dissect their role on H3K79me and osteoarthritis.

Results We documented the expression signature of histone demethylases in human non-osteoarthritis and osteoarthritis articular cartilage. Inhibition of Jumonji-C demethylase family increased H3K79me in human chondrocytes. Blockade of KDM2/7 histone demethylases with daminozide increased H3K79me and glycosaminoglycans. In mouse articular cartilage, H3K79me decayed rapidly upon induction of joint injury. Early and sustained intra-articular treatment with daminozide enhanced H3K79me and exerted protective effects in mice upon DMM. Individual silencing of KDM7A/B demethylases in human chondrocytes demonstrated that KDM7A/B mediate protective effects of daminozide on H3K79me and osteoarthritis.

Conclusion Targeting KDM7A/B histone demethylases could be an attractive strategy to protect joints against osteoarthritis.

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chondrocytes
  • Arthritis, Experimental

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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