Al-Quraishy S, Dkhil MA, Abdel-Baki AA, Delic D, Santourlidis S, Wunderlich F
Epigenetic reprogramming of host genes via DNA methylation is increasingly recognized as critical for the outcome of diverse infectious diseases, but information for malaria is not yet available. Here, we investigate the effect of blood-stage malaria of Plasmodium chabaudi on the DNA methylation status of host gene promoters on a genome-wide scale using methylated DNA immunoprecipitation and Nimblegen microarrays containing 2,000 bp oligonucleotide features that were split into -1,500 to -500 bp Ups promoters and -500 to +500 bp Cor promoters, relative to the transcription site, for evaluation of differential DNA methylation. Gene expression was analyzed by Agilent and Affymetrix microarray technology. Challenging of female C57BL/6 mice with 10(6) P. chabaudi-infected erythrocytes resulted in a self-healing outcome of infections with peak parasitemia on day 8 p.i. These infections induced organ-specific modifications of DNA methylation of gene promoters. Among the 17,354 features on Nimblegen arrays, only seven gene promoters were identified to be hypermethylated in the spleen, whereas the liver exhibited 109 hyper- and 67 hypomethylated promoters at peak parasitemia in comparison with non-infected mice. Among the identified genes with differentially methylated Cor-promoters, only the 7 genes Pigr, Ncf1, Klkb1, Emr1, Ndufb11, and Tlr6 in the liver and Apol6 in the spleen were detected to have significantly changed their expression. Remarkably, the Cor promoter of the toll-like receptor Tlr6 became hypomethylated and Tlr6 expression increased by 3.4-fold during infection. Concomitantly, the Ups promoter of the Tlr1 was hypermethylated, but Tlr1 expression also increased by 11.3-fold. TLR6 and TLR1 are known as auxillary receptors to form heterodimers with TLR2 in plasma membranes of macrophages, which recognize different pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), as, e.g., intact 3-acyl and sn-2-lyso-acyl glycosylphosphatidylinositols of P. falciparum, respectively. Our data suggest therefore that malaria-induced epigenetic fine-tuning of Tlr6 and Tlr1 through DNA methylation of their gene promoters in the liver is critically important for initial recognition of PAMPs and, thus, for the final self-healing outcome of blood-stage infections with P. chabaudi malaria.