Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology vol:82 pages:174-183
Differential DNA methylation exists in the epigenome of end-stage failing human hearts but whether it contributes to disease progression is presently unknown. Here, we report that cardiac specific deletion of Dnmt3b, the predominant DNA methyltransferase in adult mouse hearts, leads to an accelerated progression to severe systolic insufficiency and myocardial thinning without a preceding hypertrophic response. This was accompanied by widespread myocardial interstitial fibrosis and myo-sarcomeric disarray. By targeted candidate gene quantitative RT-PCR, we discovered an over-activity of cryptic splice sites in the sarcomeric gene Myh7, resulting in a transcript with 8 exons missing. Moreover, a region of differential methylation overlies the splice site locus in the hearts of the cardiac-specific conditional knockout (CKO) mice. Although abundant and complex forms of alternative splice variants have been reported in diseased hearts and the contribution of each remains to be understood in further detail, our results demonstrate for the first time that a link may exist between alternative splicing and the cardiac epigenome. In particular, this gives the novel evidence whereby the loss of an epigenome modifier promotes the development and progression of heart disease.