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Copper stress induces zebrafish central neural system myelin defects via WNT/NOTCH-hoxb5b signaling and pou3f1/fam168a/fam168b DNA methylation

Zhang T, Guan P, Liu W, Zhao G, Fang Y, Fu H, Gui JF, Li G, Liu JX
Biochim Biophys Acta Gene Regul Mech. 2020 Oct;1863(10):194612. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2020.194612
Unbalanced copper (Cu) homeostasis is associated with neurological development defects and diseases. However, the molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Here, central neural system (CNS) myelin defects and the down-regulated expression of WNT/NOTCH signaling and its down-stream mediator hoxb5b were observed in Cu2+ stressed zebrafish larvae. The loss/knockdown-of-function of hoxb5b phenocopied the myelin and axon defects observed in Cu2+ stressed embryos. Meanwhile, the activation of WNT/NOTCH signaling and ectopic expression of hoxb5b could rescue Cu induced myelin defects. Additionally, fam168b, similar to pou3f1/2, exhibited significant promoter hypermethylation and reduced expression in Cu2+ stressed embryos. The hypermethylated locus in fam168b promoter acted pivotally in its transcription, and the loss/knockdown of fam168b/pou3f1 also induced myelin defects. This study also demonstrated that fam168b/pou3f1 and hoxb5b axis acted in a seesaw manner during fish embryogenesis: Cu induced the down-regulated expression of the WNT&NOTCH-hoxb5b axis through the function of copper transporter cox17, coupled with the promoter methylation of genes fam168b/pou3f1, and its subsequent down-regulated expression through the function of another transporter atp7b, making joint contributions to myelin defects in embryos.
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