Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent joint disease worldwide, and it is a leading source of pain and disability. To date, this disease lacks curative treatment, as underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. The histone methyltransferase DOT1L protects against osteoarthritis, and DOT1L-mediated H3K79 methylation is reduced in human and mouse osteoarthritic joints. Thus, restoring DOT1L function seems to be critical to preserve joint health. However, DOT1L-regulating molecules and networks remain elusive, in the joint and beyond. Here, we identified transcription factors and networks that regulate DOT1L gene expression using a potentially novel bioinformatics pipeline. Thereby, we unraveled a possibly undiscovered link between the hypoxia pathway and DOT1L. We provide evidence that hypoxia enhanced DOT1L expression and H3K79 methylation via hypoxia-inducible factor-1 α (HIF1A). Importantly, we demonstrate that DOT1L contributed to the protective effects of hypoxia in articular cartilage and osteoarthritis. Intra-articular treatment with a selective hypoxia mimetic in mice after surgical induction of osteoarthritis restored DOT1L function and stalled disease progression. Collectively, our data unravel a molecular mechanism that protects against osteoarthritis with hypoxia inducing DOT1L transcription in cartilage. Local treatment with a selective hypoxia mimetic in the joint restores DOT1L function and could be an attractive therapeutic strategy for osteoarthritis.
Astrid De Roover, Ana Escribano Núñez, Frederique M.F. Cornelis, Chahrazad Cherifi, Leire Casas-Fraile, An Sermon, Frederic Cailotto, Rik J. Lories, Silvia Monteagudo