A terminally differentiated cellular phenotype is thought to be maintained, at least in part, by both active and repressive histone marks. However, it is unclear whether regenerating cells after injury need to replicate such epigenetic marks to recover. To test whether renal epithelial cell regeneration is dependent on histone H3K4 methylation, we generated a mouse model that deleted the Paxip1 gene in mature renal proximal tubules. Paxip1 encodes PTIP, an essential protein in the Mll3/4 histone H3K4 methyltransferase complex. Mice with PTIP deletions in the adult kidney proximal tubules were viable and fertile. Upon acute kidney injury, such mice failed to regenerate damaged tubules, leading to scarring and interstitial fibrosis. The inability to repair damage was likely due to a failure to reenter mitosis and reactivate regulatory genes such as Sox9. PTIP deletion reduced histone H3K4 methylation in uninjured adult kidneys but did not significantly affect function or the expression of epithelial specific markers. Strikingly, cell lineage tracing revealed that surviving PTIP mutant cells could alter their phenotype and lose epithelial markers. These data demonstrate that PTIP and associated MLL3/4-mediated histone methylation are needed for regenerating proximal tubules and to maintain or reestablish the cellular epithelial phenotype.
Abdul Soofi, Ana P. Kutschat, Mohammad Azam, Ann M. Laszczyk, Gregory R. Dressler