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Homocysteine accelerates senescence of endothelial cells via DNA hypomethylation of human telomerase reverse transcriptase.

Authors: Donghong D. Zhang, Xiaoli X. Sun, Jianlan J. Liu, Xina X. Xie, Wei W. Cui, Yi Y. Zhu
Published: 10/30/2014, Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology


Homocysteine can accelerate the senescence of endothelial progenitor cells or endothelial cells (ECs) via telomerase inactivation and length shortening. However, the underlying mechanism is unclear. Here, we investigated whether homocysteine promotes endothelial senescence by reducing the expression and activity of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) by DNA methylation to reduce ECs telomerase activity.

Approach And Results

When compared with primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells grown under standard conditions, ECs with chronic homocysteine treatment showed accelerated upregulation of p16, p21, and p53, markers of cellular senescence, during 6 to 10 passages. Interestingly, homocysteine-stimulated but not angiotensin II-stimulated ECs senescence could be reversed by hypermethylation induced by folic acid or s-adenosylmethionine supplementation. Meanwhile, homocysteine promoted the shortening of telomere length specifically related to restoration of hTERT transcriptional expression and CCCTC-binding factor binding sites with hTERT promoter hypomethylation, as detected by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, Western blot, methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction, and bisulfite sequencing assay. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation results showed that homocysteine-reduced telomere activity and homocysteine-induced EC senescence might contribute to hTERT promoter demethylation by increasing CCCTC-binding factor repression and interfering in the SP1 binding to the demethylated hTERT promoter, which might relate with reduced of DNA methyltransferase 1. Furthermore, the CCCTC-binding factor-dependent mechanism of homocysteine-reduced hTERT expression via DNA demethylation was confirmed in aortic endothelia of mice with hyperhomocysteine levels.


CCCTC-binding factor and SP1 cross talk may contribute to homocysteine-reduced hTERT DNA methylation and expression in endothelial senescence.

© 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.
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