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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Steroid hormones regulate genome-wide epigenetic programming and gene transcription in human endometrial cells with marked aberrancies in endometriosis.

  • Author(s): Houshdaran, Sahar
  • Oke, Ashwini B
  • Fung, Jennifer C
  • Vo, Kim Chi
  • Nezhat, Camran
  • Giudice, Linda C
  • et al.

Programmed cellular responses to cycling ovarian-derived steroid hormones are central to normal endometrial function. Abnormalities therein, as in the estrogen-dependent, progesterone-"resistant" disorder, endometriosis, predispose to infertility and poor pregnancy outcomes. The endometrial stromal fibroblast (eSF) is a master regulator of pregnancy success. However, the complex hormone-epigenome-transcriptome interplay in eSF by each individual steroid hormone, estradiol (E2) and/or progesterone (P4), under physiologic and pathophysiologic conditions, is poorly understood and was investigated herein. Genome-wide analysis in normal, early and late stage eutopic eSF revealed: i) In contrast to P4, E2 extensively affected the eSF DNA methylome and transcriptome. Importantly, E2 resulted in a more open versus closed chromatin, confirmed by histone modification analysis. Combined E2 with P4 affected a totally different landscape than E2 or P4 alone. ii) P4 responses were aberrant in early and late stage endometriosis, and mapping differentially methylated CpG sites with progesterone receptor targets from the literature revealed different but not decreased P4-targets, leading to question the P4-"resistant" phenotype in endometriosis. Interestingly, an aberrant E2-response was noted in eSF from endometriosis women; iii) Steroid hormones affected specific genomic contexts and locations, significantly enriching enhancers and intergenic regions and minimally involving proximal promoters and CpG islands, regardless of hormone type and eSF disease state. iv) In eSF from women with endometriosis, aberrant hormone-induced methylation signatures were mainly due to existing DNA methylation marks prior to hormone treatments and involved known endometriosis genes and pathways. v) Distinct DNA methylation and transcriptomic signatures revealed early and late stage endometriosis comprise unique disease subtypes. Taken together, the data herein, for the first time, provide significant insight into the hormone-epigenome-transcriptome interplay of each steroid hormone in normal eSF, and aberrant E2 response, distinct disease subtypes, and pre-existing epigenetic aberrancies in the setting of endometriosis, provide mechanistic insights into how endometriosis affects endometrial function/dysfunction.

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