The differentiation and polarization of macrophages
have been extensively studied, particularly with regard to transcriptional regulation. For instance, the PU.1 and C/EBP transcription factors are critical for the development of macrophages. M1 macrophage polarization by TLR ligands involves the activation of a set of transcription factors, such as NF-κB, AP-1, C/EBPβ, PU.1 and IFN-regulatory factors (IRFs) 6, 19. On the other hand, transcription factors such as STAT6 and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-γ are involved in the polarization of M2 macrophages 14, 20. However, recent studies have revealed that epigenetic regulation is also important for macrophage development and polarization. Epigenetic changes regulate diverse cellular functions including cellular differentiation, cell activation and transformation. Dynamic changes in DNA methylation and histone modifications Selleck BGJ398 are associated with altered gene expression 21. Although the epigenetic control
of macrophage function is not fully understood, GSK1120212 mw we here discuss several mechanisms that have become clearer recently. Methylation of the cytosine in the CpG dinucleotide is mediated by a number of DNA methyltransferases, and is generally associated with gene silencing by affecting the recruitment of transcription factors, which results in cellular differentiation 22. Global changes in DNA methylation in hematopoietic cell differentiation have been studied in the mouse BM 23, revealing that myeloid commitment from hematopoietic stem cells is associated with reduced global DNA methylation as compared with that during lymphoid commitment. After treatment with a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, progenitors are skewed toward myeloid rather than lymphoid cells, suggesting that control of DNA methylation is important for myeloid cell differentiation. Although DNA methylation analysis in mature macrophages has not been reported, it was shown that the methylated
CpGs on the CD209 promoter were drastically demethylated following differentiation from monocytes to dendritic cells 24. Consistently, the expression of CD209, which encodes Wilson disease protein DC-SIGN, increased upon differentiation in human cells, suggesting that loss of the inhibitory epigenetic mark contributes to the differentiation of monocytes. Further studies in macrophages will be necessary for uncovering the role of DNA methylation regulation in macrophage polarization. It is widely accepted that histone modifications such as methylation, acetylation and phosphorylation are important for controlling gene expression, and specific combinations of modifications are considered to constitute a “histone code”. Histone acetylation marks are enriched in activated chromatin regions 25.